Updated: Aug 1, 2020
Hey mama! Wanting to get back to running after baby? You’ve been through a lot physically (and likely emotionally!) over the past months and probably want to get back to feeling like yourself.
Following what I felt like were difficult pregnancies and all the weird changes and challenges those presented, I wanted to have some sense of being in control of my body. You might feel some pressure to lose the baby weight or feel stuck in the house WAY more than your norm. Or maybe you just love running and can’t wait to get back to your sport. While these are all great motivators and will help drive you back towards focusing on your health and fitness, the timing of returning to running (and other impact activities) after having a baby is super important. Especially when it comes to reducing risk of injury and serious pelvic dysfunction.
Running can be great for building bone mass, endurance, mental resilience and even can strengthening the pelvic floor (which reduces the incidence of issues such as urinary leakage and prolapse). However, there are recently released criteria put out by womens health and running experts (Groom, Donnelly and Brockwell, 2019) that recommend waiting until AT LEAST 3 months postnatal to ensure your pelvic floor muscles nad joints are ready. Why is this important? Because regardless of vaginal or c-section delivery, our tissues in our pelvis and abdomen need time to heal, reposition and be able to safely take on load.
Some women will need more time than this, with the timeframe closer to 6 months postnatal.
If you feel you are in the appropriate timeframe and feeling ready to start jogging, the other criteria include not having any of the following symptoms prior to or with attempting running: heaviness in the pelvis, leaking urine or loss of control of bowel movements, signs of diastasis rectus (abdominal gapping or doming), pelvic or low back pain, or blood loss not related to menstrual cycle (Groom et al 2019).
Sincerely and honestly, the best way to know if you are ready if you have any doubts is to get an assessment by a pelvic floor physical therapist who is familiar with return to running testing. Tests should include looking at a series of single leg movements to assess strength and coordination, a pelvic floor evaluation to determine the state of your muscles and if you have sufficient pelvic floor endurance and strength to help support your pelvic organs.
All of this just to get back to jogging? It may seem like a lot to some, but if you want to reduce your risk of injury and long term pelvic issues, take it slow and get checked out if needed. As a mother of two, I know what it feels like to want your body back and have an exercise outlet. I rushed back to jogging and other impact activity too quickly after my first pregnancy and subsequently had issues that have taken years to correct. Following my second pregnancy I was much more deliberate and mindful of what felt right in my body (though still challenging myself!) and at a year postpartum now feel stronger than I have in years.
Please be smart and kind to your body after baby, you truly deserve to not be pressured by yourself or others to rush back to ‘normal’ in order to more fully recover from pregnancy and delivery. Enjoy those first months with baby, get a little more active each day and take care of yourself! Please reach out to me with any questions about returning to running testing or any other concerns!