For endurance athletes, getting back on the road after pregnancy is a huge goal. From the abundance of joy to the burden of increased stress, having a child is life changing in many ways. Running is a fantastic outlet for this new stress for so many women, but lots of misinformation exists about when it is safe to return to running after pregnancy. We hope to clear that up for you.
When Can I Get Back to Running After Pregnancy?
This is a more complicated answer than just giving a specific time frame. First, we need your doctor to give you clearance to resume exercising. From here, before we start pounding the pavement, we’d like to see women meet the following criteria:
Moderate or less pain with exercise lasting <24 hours
No pain / leaking / coning with activities of daily living, walking, squatting, jumping, and bounding
Good core awareness and pelvic floor muscle activation
Are There Signs I am Doing Too Much?
The following are a few things to watch out for that indicate your body is not ready for the exercise and/or intensity of exercise you are doing:
Coning / doming
See the picture below where you’ll note some protrusion in the abdominal wall, also known as diastasis recti (DR). DR is normal during pregnancy, BUT we don’t want to further stretch the abdominal wall by exercising too aggressively as this will slow postpartum recovery.
If I’m Not Ready to Run, What Activities Can I Do?
There are several exercises you can still safely do to begin rebuilding endurance if you don’t meet the above criteria. The easiest exercises to start with typically include swimming, walking, and biking. If those are well tolerated, we can progress to jogging, elliptical, and rowing before ultimately returning to running.
Once you begin to run again, there are several strategies you can use if you begin to experience any of the previous signs of over doing it. These strategies help to alter the amount of stress you are putting on your pelvic floor.
Altering your stride length
Changing your torso angle
Changing the surface incline
Working on breathing mechanics
Using a pessary
A running assessment from the team at Onward Charlotte combined with specific tests for the postpartum athlete performed by a trained physical therapist can greatly speed your recovery and get you back to running ASAP. See their schedule to book an appointment today!