When can I start running again???
I’m a physiotherapist, and I am ALWAYS getting this question from new moms! Unfortunately, guidelines are vague, and there are reasons for this!
Each woman enters pregnancy with a different level of fitness, maintains a different level of activity throughout pregnancy, and has a different birth experience. Bottom line, the answer is different for each woman.
How do you know if YOU are ready?
Go for your 6-week postnatal check up
Before beginning any intense exercise see your healthcare provider for your 6-week postnatal check up. Have you recovered well from labour and delivery and been given the green light for exercise? Not so fast… a few more steps!
Check in with your pelvic floor and abdominals. Do you have any of the 3 “P’s”?
Pain in your pelvis, low back, groin, or abdominals?
Pressure or bulging into vagina or rectum or bulging or tenting of your abdomen with any activity or exercise?
“Peeing” – Leaking of urine (or gas or stool)?
Answer yes to any of these questions??? Then you are not yet ready to run. Book an assessment with a pelvic health physiotherapist to determine the cause and what you can do to fix it. Ideally, I suggest that every woman see a pelvic health physiotherapist in pregnancy and postpartum to be assessed! Once checked and all clear with the pelvic floor and core… progress to step 3.
Check your strength. Running requires good single leg strength.
Single leg bridge?
Single leg squat?
Single leg hop?
Can you do all those with good form, and without the 3 “Ps” or breath holding?
If not, you need to increase strength and function of your pelvic floor, core, and lower body first!
Consider other factors.
Breastfeeding? Did you know your joints are still somewhat loose and might not be ready for a load of running?
Have you slept? Fatigued? Can you match the intensity needed to avoid injury?
Are you getting adequate nutrition and hydration? Your needs will be higher if nursing.
Footwear? Your feet may have changed during pregnancy, and you may need new running shoes.
Start slow, listen to your body!
Start a walk/run program on level surface ideally WITHOUT pushing the stroller 4 minutes:1-minute cycles x 4-6 to start.
Increase running time within walk/run intervals, then increase cycles, speed, and terrain.
Gina-Marie Cerantola is a Women’s Health Physiotherapist and mom of two in Calgary, Alberta. She is co-owner of Optimum Perinatal Health, where she works with women prenatally to ready their bodies for labour and delivery, and postnatally to recover and restore after the birth of their babies. You can find her at www.optimumperinatal.com or on Facebook @optimumperinatalhealth.