When can I return to running after baby?
This is a question I get asked in clinic all the time. The majority of women I see post baby want to run. I get it! I love running. Running is seen as a sure way to lose weight, it is the easiest type of exercise to ‘fit in ‘around your new baby and it is an enjoyable, popular way to exercise that makes you feel like you again. However, pregnancy places untold demands on your body and weakens your core, which is made up of your diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidus (deep low back muscles) and your transversus abdominals (deep tummy muscles). These muscles need to be strong and working together to withstand the forces put through your body when you run.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT I AM NOT READY TO RUN?
• If you ever leak urine or have faecal urgency
• If you experience pelvic or lower back pain
• If there is bulging, straining, protrusion, or doming anywhere on or from within your abdomen or vagina
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I RUN TOO EARLY OR HAVE THESE SYMPTOMS?
There is a chance that if your body is not ready for you to run then you could suffer with the following:
• Pelvic organ prolapse
• Urinary / Faecal incontinence
• Diastasis Recti (mummy tummy)
• Dyspareunia ( pain during sex)
• Low back pain or other musculoskeletal injures.
SO WHEN SHOULD I RUN?
It has long been considered that once you have seen your GP at 6 weeks then you have the green light to run. This is a very 'antiquated' guideline which is currently under review. 6 weeks in general is considered too soon to return to running or high impact. You have to be strong to run well, due to the demands placed on your body. After having a baby you have to heal, regardless of delivery, and then strengthen; this will take longer than 6 weeks. I recommend the following:
⭐️ Your body needs time to heal if you have any of the signs mentioned above, so you should not run.
⭐️ Pelvic health physiotherapists do not recommend return to running for a minimum of 12 weeks regardless of delivery.
⭐️ All new mums, no matter how much exercise they do, should have a women’s health mummy check. Tummy, pelvic floor, global strength, and posture are assessed and then a guided strengthening program is devised that will build up your core safely so that it can withstand running.
⭐️ Once you are ready, a women’s health physio will watch you run and see what additional things can be changed or added, to formulate a structured training program that will maintain your strength, and keep you running in the long term. You only have one body and you need to protect it. Rehabilitation after baby is so important and essential to every woman, even if you do not wish to run. Rehab slowly, safely and effectively to ensure that, post baby, you are 'run ready' for life.
By Emma Brockwell
Pelvic Health Physiotherapist
01883 713 434
Adore Your Pelvic Floor: