Returning to Running after a Baby
Congratulations, you’ve completed one of the most awesome things a human body can accomplish! Giving birth, whether it’s a natural or cesarian delivery, is like the Olympic Games of every sport combined and you just won the gold. But now that you’ve gotten one physical feat completed, you want to return to another: running.
Running is great way to stay active and strong, but your body needs time to heal and prepare before starting higher impact activities. Clinical practice guidelines do not advise any impact activity for the first three months of the postpartum period. Don’t worry! During these months you can take this opportunity to start walking and do gentle low-impact strengthening to prepare your body for running.
It’s highly recommended that during this early postpartum period, you get evaluated by a pelvic floor physiotherapist. During this visit your physio will evaluate your muscle strength, endurance, and coordination of not only your pelvic floor but your entire core. Together, you’ll establish where you are in terms of your recovery and put together an exercise program to help you towards your goals.
If all is well and your doctor and physio give you the OK, during months 3-6 you can progressively return to running. This typically means doing 1-2 minute intervals of easy running as your start out. Some symptoms that may indicate you might be progressing too quickly are:
– Leaking during physical effort like running or picking up heavy (or heavy-ish) objects
– Feeling a heaviness or pressure in your perineum
– Feeling an uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom (aka urgency)
There are other important factors to consider when returning to running postpartum. Being a new parent can be really demanding, let’s make sure running is something that is filling your cup, not draining it! These are some things to take into account when running:
– Fatigue: the less sleep you get, the more prone you are to injury during exercise
– Nutrition: your body needs fuel to workout effectively!
– Running with a buggy: not before baby is 6-9 months old, and make sure your buggy is designed for running!
– Breast or chest feeding: timing is key to reduce discomfort, and you may want to look into getting fitted for a supportive (not compressive) sports bra. Hydration is also ESSENTIAL seeing as your body is providing hydration for two!