How To Get Back Running Post Pregnancy?
If you’re a female runner the thought has probably crossed your mind, how will having a baby affect your running? How long will it take to get back? And what will it feel like?
As every postpartum runner knows, the experience of pregnancy and childbirth drastically changes how you experience your favourite form of exercise. Where a quick jog around the block once felt light and effortless, suddenly you’re hurting in places you didn’t know could hurt. If this is you, rest assured you’re not alone: More than one-third of new mother runners report pain—typically felt on the outside of one hip, deep in the pelvis or buttocks and/or in the lower back—27 percent report urine leakage (also known as stress urinary incontinence) and nearly one-third report abdominal separation (also known as diastasis recti), according to a recent Sports Health study of more than 500 postpartum runners.
Non runners like to joke that running is addictive. Runners will tell you that it’s no joke. New moms might ache to get back on their feet, especially if they didn’t run during their pregnancy. But they need to make sure the timing is right. Women who start running too soon after birth put themselves at serious risk.
It isn’t exactly an easy topic to talk about. Baby weight is just the starting point and there’s the guilt that can accompany wanting to get out of the house and have some time alone? Or the fact that you find yourself inexplicably unable to control your bladder the way you were used to ☺ While admittedly it might not make for great dinner table conversation, and it’s often embarrassing and awkward to talk about at first let me tell you from talking to all new mums you are not alone a runner or not!
A lot of women think that it’s going to be easy to get back in the saddle especially after going through childbirth, what could be harder than that right? ☺ Ha ha hate to break it to you if you do you’re …Wonder Woman, however, common mistakes are women going at it too hard too quickly! Probably something we can all relate to when it comes to running! Not me, I was more of the slow n steady does it type of new mom runner! ☺
So, what can you do to start you back on your running journey post pregnancy?
Firstly And Most Importantly, Listen To Your Doctor
Not all doctors will understand how important running might be to you, but at the end of the day, a doctor is the one who can assess the impact pregnancy has had on your body. Your doctor is the best person to give a general timeline for how long you should take off before attempting to run again, and their word is important so listen to it and your body!
The general recommendation is 6 weeks off after giving birth, but even that may not be enough. Your mind might feel ready to go, but you might get the distinct feeling your body isn’t. Or maybe, your body feels good to go, but mentally you don’t feel good about it yet. Don’t feel any pressure to rush back.
Why 6 Weeks?
Every pregnancy book on the market says that new moms should rest for six weeks after giving birth. No heavy lifting, no running, no cardio. And there is a good reason for this. Giving birth is not easy. That might sound too simple, but few people realise the impact birth has on the human body. A woman’s abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. This gives the baby room to grow, but it also leaves her ab muscles weak after she gives birth. The woman’s internal organs also shift as the baby grows. This, combined with the stress of actually giving birth, has a huge impact on a woman’s body. Studies show that women post-birth are in much the same condition as women post-surgery whether the birth was vaginal or through C-section!
Secondly, Consider Your Pelvic Floor
Alongside seeking advice from a doctor it is strongly recommended to work on your pelvic floor, your midwife or and or an expert in this field is one expert who really knows what the body has been through during pregnancy and birth. Not only will your midwife or a pelvic floor therapist be able to see where your body is really at, but they understand what a postpartum mother is going through better than most physicians, and will likely give you the all-clear around the same time your intuition would have told you it is time.
Try introducing some “abs and pelvic floor” exercises into your routine. Programs that target these areas will include pelvic floor contractions as well as exercises to strengthen the lower back. Some programs will also focus on breathing techniques. This is because many women report feeling out of breath for several weeks post-birth.
Women who skip the conditioning workouts and head right back to their runs increase their risk of injury. Pregnancy floods the body with hormones that make tendons and ligaments more flexible. This is great while giving birth. It’s less helpful when running. It increases a runner’s risk of sports injuries like Achilles Tendinitis and Runner’s Knee. Other complications like prolapse and incontinence can also crop up. Some issues, like pelvic girdle pain and pelvic floor dysfunction, can be debilitating and quite painful. None of these issues are worth it. Runners should give themselves time to heal and properly condition their bodies before they run.
Thirdly, Listen To Your Heart
Your GP can give you the medical go ahead but only you are able to see a lot about your body, You have to be honest with yourself about this, don’t start running for the wrong reasons; because you think you need to lose the baby weight, because everyone else is, or because you feel like you should. Start running because you want to, because thinking about just being out there, whatever speed, distance, or pace you run, brings you joy!
This is not the time to have an ego!!
Once you do decide it is time, be prepared for a long and bumpy road ahead. That first run might feel amazing, without the extra weight of the baby, it can be easy to look at what you used to do and get frustrated because you are such a long way from your best but to everyone else, you are incredible for even thinking about getting out there to exercise. There will be a time when you can run fast again, but now is not that time, slow n steady as you know is best.
Last But Not Least, Check Your Running Gear!
Your feet on top of everything else changes during pregnancy! Swollen feet are a common complaint among pregnant women. Doctors assure their patients that the swelling will go down. They rarely admit that pregnancy may permanently change a woman’s feet. The combination of hormones and pregnancy weight causes some women’s feet to widen. It may also cause their arches to flatten. Some runners may find that they need new shoes or arch-support inserts after they give birth, so make sure you get a gait analysis done to ensure you are wearing the correct supportive shoe to get you back on track.
You may also need to buy new supportive sports bra ideally with adjustable straps on the shoulders and in some cases front openings where required. Some women may find that they need larger or more supportive sports bras. Some brands include underwire and broad shoulder straps as well as additional padding.
So all of the above are recommendations and snippets of information only from a fellow running Run Hub Mom, so keep in mind when getting back to running post pregnancy, everyone is different and everyone’s recovery goes at a different pace, get your medical clearance, do your pelvic floor exercises, get your comfy running gear on and most of all get out there and get running, have patience and remember go easy on yourself, it’s not a race but a journey with lots of ups and downs along the way, with mostly ups and lots of moments of peace & freedom I hope, enjoy! ☺