Congrats – you’ve just had a baby! You might be keen to get moving and looking at your post natal return to running. Below we provide a guideline on how to safely return to running and what you should be aware of before you start.
Why shouldn’t I return to running straight after having a baby?
Running places an increased demand on the body compared to low impact exercises. After having a baby, postnatal women need time to heal and regain strength, with focus on the pelvic floor and the abdominal muscles following pregnancy and delivery.
After a vaginal delivery, some research studies suggest it can take 12 months before the pelvic floor reaches near its prenatal size!
Following a caesarean delivery, there needs to be consideration given to the healing time for the uterine scar. It is also important to note the abdominal fascia (connective tissue) can take 6-7 months to return back to ‘normal’.
I’d still like to exercise. What can I do?
The general guideline is that postnatal women should do low impact exercise for the first 3 months and post natal return to running between 3-6 months. This does not mean you can’t do any exercise before this. The guide for Mums who want to return to their exercise of choice is to progress training gradually and modify it to their individual needs.
It is recommended that all women, regardless of how they deliver, seek out a pelvic health assessment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to evaluate strength, function, and coordination of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
Key signs of having problems include:
- Bladder and/or bowel leakage (Urinary and/or faecal incontinence)
- Urinary urgency (rushing to the toilet to void)
- Heaviness/bulge/dragging sensation in the vaginal area
- Pain during sex
- Difficulty emptying bowels
- Separated abdominals (Rectus Abdominal Diastasis)
What do I need to achieve before being ready to run at 3 months postnatal?
- Walking for 30 minutes
- Single leg balance for 10 seconds
- Single leg squat for 10 repetitions on each side
- Jog on the spot for 1 minute
- Forward bounds for 10 repetitions
- Hop in place for 10 repetitions on each leg
- Single leg ‘running man’: opposite arm and hip flexion/extension (bent knee) for 10 repetitions on each side
A physiotherapist can assess these activities to make sure you are doing them correctly.
- Sufficient pelvic floor strength
- 20 repetitions of each test.
- Single leg calf raise
- Single leg bridge
- Single leg sit to stand
- Side lying abduction
** Consideration of weight, fitness, breathing, psychological status, DRA, scar mobility, sleep, breastfeeding status, supportive wear and the risk of RED-S is recommended to provide a holistic approach to the return to running evaluation and address the common issues that this population can encounter. **
What will our team of Physios do to help my to post natal return to running?
- Assess the impact and strength exercises of each individual
- Assess and assist in improving abdominal and pelvic floor function.
- Develop a whole-body strength and fitness program, this may include:
- An individual physiotherapy exercise class to get feedback from a physiotherapist
- Home exercise program – including pelvic floor and abdominal exercises
- Facilitate safe return to your chosen sport or exercise
- Help improve your physical and mental well being
- Create manageable short and long-term goals
Please have a look at the BJSM guide to returning to running here.