When can I return to running postnatally?
Running is a high impact sport placing a lot of demand on the body - it’s no surprise that this isn’t something women can simply ‘bounce back into’ post delivery. The most recent guidelines (published iin 2019 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine) recommend waiting at least 12 weeks before gradually returning to running - after meeting certain criteria!
We recommend that all women, regardless of how they deliver, have an individualised assessment to evaluate strength, function and receive individualised pelvic floor rehabilitation to ensure a safe return to running (in the short AND long term).
In order to be ‘run ready’ post pregnancy and delivery, your body needs adequate time to heal and regain strength, particularly when it comes to the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Following caesarean section delivery, consideration should also be given to the healing and remodeling of the uterine scar.
We all know the importance of recovery and rehabilitation after knee surgery, it really is no different following pregnancy and birth. Without taking the time to have your pelvic floor properly assessed and without adequate rehab, there is high chance of injury to your pelvic floor, muscle and joint pain and potential prolapse and incontinence issues.
Now it’s not just about the pelvic floor! We can’t ignore the rest of the body either. Pregnancy can cause HUGE changes to your standing posture, foot posture and size and the level of control/stability around the pelvis. It is important to address these changes and identity areas of tension or tightness that will need loosening and areas of weakness that will need strengthening - again with the aim of injury prevention and to get you back on your feet without frustrating interruption.
So what can you do for the first 12 weeks to get back on the road?
There are so many things you can do in the early period postnatally that don’t involve running, but will prepare you to return - potentially even stronger than before!
Book in for a postnatal assessment with a Physiotherapist specialising in this area (this assessment should involve a full body screening and in depth assessment of the pelvic floor and abdominals along with a discussion regarding your goals)
Breath re training - sounds strange but your rib cage and breathing patterns change a lot during pregnancy to make way for the growing baby and uterus so it’s important to ensure you are breathing efficiently to best utilise that air flow and to avoid excessive strain on the lower abdomen and pelvic area
Commence core and pelvic floor exercises as guided by your physiotherapist (these should be individualized based on your needs, this will vary from woman to woman! No one size fits all)
Low impact exercises focusing on leg strength and pelvic stability (time to get those legs strong and pelvis nice and stable
Walk before you run - a structured return to run program will involve a combination of walking, running and interval training to build your tolerance, endurance and allow your body to adapt to these new loads without injury/setbacks.
The picture below gives an example of how we can progress exercise with the goal of returning to running. With this in mind remember everyone is different! If you are looking to return to running postnatally, book in for a more individualized assessment and we will ensure a safe and smooth return to the activities you love. We promise we just want the best for you both in the short term and especially the long term.