Returning to Running Postnatally

By:Dr. Caeden Chau

Running has become an increasingly popular way to be physically active for many people, especially during these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It’s a cost free way to connect with the outdoors, get the blood pumping and tap into that endorphin-filled runner’s high!

In particular, many women look at running as a great way to incorporate exercise following childbirth.  But as we know, a lot of force is transmitted through the legs and pelvis while running, which causes an increase in intra-abdominal pressure.  Getting back into running too quickly after childbirth could increase the risk of  pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, abdominal weakness and lumbopelvic pain. Building up to a “moderate-intensity” of exercise for at least 3 months postpartum is recommended before beginning to run.

Typically, the first 3 months postpartum should consist of:

  • Weeks 0-6: pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance, basic core exercises, light cardio (walking or static cycling) and light body-weight exercises
  • Weeks 6-12: increase intensity of low impact exercises (power walking, cycling, swimming), add resistance to leg and core exercises, begin light-weight training
  • Weeks 12+: begin a graded return to running program if there are no signs of pelvic floor dysfunction

Before beginning to run, test yourself with the following tasks-are you able to complete all of these without any pain, leakage or heaviness?

  • Walking for 30 minutes
  • Single leg balances (30 seconds/side)
  • Single leg squats (10 squats/side)
  • Jogging on the spot for 1 minute
  • 10 forward bounds
  • Single leg hops (10 hops/side)
  • Doing the”running man” for 1 minute

If the answer is “no” to any one of these, it would be helpful to see a healthcare professional (chiropractor, pelvic floor physiotherapist, etc.) for an assessment.  Work with your healthcare team to determine the best way to manage these symptoms and find the best exercises that help prepare you to return to running free of pain and symptoms!  Building a solid foundation during the first few months after childbirth will allow moms to be physically active during all stages of motherhood!

If you want to learn more about assessments, exercises and programs for return-to-run, give us a call and we will be happy to help!  As always, be sure to speak to your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about your health.

*references available upon request