How To Safely Return To Running After Having Your Baby
Ladies (and gents, if you’re here), the postpartum period is a time for you to heal and recover. It’s a vital time for you, your baby, and the family to bond. There comes a time that some parents want to get back up and get moving, especially runners and those into physical fitness.
Is It Safe To Run After A Pregnancy?
If you’re ready to get those feet back on the ground running, you’ll need to get some foundation work in before you lace up those runners. Before you hit the trail, please talk to your doctor or OBGYN to ensure you’re cleared to get back into the game.
It’s safe to assume that once you’ve healed, you can start running, but there are some guidelines and timeframes to follow to ensure your body is ready for this high-impact activity after pregnancy. One should consider the factors like the type of delivery - cesarean vs. vaginal - and any complications experienced.
Many OBGYNs and the ACOG say that if the pregnancy was healthy and the childbirth was without complication, returning to low- to moderate-intensity exercises can quite soon after the delivery. That said, running is considered moderate to vigorous exercise, so you must prepare your body for what’s about to come.
Incorporate exercises focusing on your lower extremity strength, core stability, and plyometric activities that gradually progress as you feel comfortable.
How Long Should I Wait Before I Start Running?
This answer is unique to each individual’s health. The best way to determine this date is to get assessed by your doctor and maybe even a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor therapy.
The typical answer is to wait about 12 weeks after the baby was born before you start running. And we can usually begin the active recovery and training process around 6 weeks postpartum.
With a medical professional's go-ahead’ before the 6-week postpartum check, you can begin working on endurance, pelvic floor muscle strength, and coordination exercises. Gentle abdominal activation like bent knee fallouts and pelvic tilts can also be beneficial.
Your next goal, mama, is to walk for 30 minutes without experiencing any symptoms before you can increase your speed to a run. Mindset is everything; avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to get that post-baby body back. This can lead to several unrealistic expectations for whole-body recovery and returning to “normal.”
Rushing the process can lead to complications and extend your recovery and healing time.
Steps To Prepare For Postpartum Running
There are several exercises that mothers can focus on to prepare for running after pregnancy. These exercises focus on:
- Pelvic and Core Stability: Our abdominal muscles and pelvic floor are fundamental for running safely. Pelvic tilts, pelvic floor contractions, aka Kegels, bird dogs, and abdominal bracing are excellent exercises.
- Lower Body Strength: Our quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes help carry our body through every stride. Dedicate a few days of the week to squats, split squats, calf raises, single-leg bridges, and single-leg Romanian deadlifts.
- Plyometrics: The elasticity properties within our tendons and muscles are one of the critical components of running. Plyometrics might seem like advanced-level exercises, which isn’t wrong. However, they can be done at lower intensities. It’s beneficial to perform squat jumps, box jumps, and single-leg jumps.
A walking program is one of the most important ways to prepare your body for running after pregnancy and childbirth. Walking is a safe way to maintain our cardiovascular health while preparing our body for the next phase… running. Start out slow with short walks and work your way up to brisker, longer walks. Before you know it, you’ll be running heel to toe around your favorite spots.