Running for moms is so much more than just running! For moms, running is freedom, exercise, health, mental sanity, an emotional outlet, sacred alone time, and just plain fun. Take away a running mom’s ability to run and she will end you. So for an avid runner, when it comes to running after pregnancy, it’s no surprise that the first thing on a new mom’s mind is: when can I start running again?!
But before you lace up those sneakers right at that proverbial “six week checkup mark”, it is important to pause and check in with your body and how it’s healing. The postpartum period, often referred to as the “fourth trimester,” is a time of significant adjustment for new mothers. Your body is still recovering from the physical stress of pregnancy and childbirth, and your hormones are adjusting as well. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care and listen to your body during this time. You may you have diastasis recti or core weakness, pelvic floor issues, SI pain, and a host of other lingering concerns that may not quite be healed super quickly after birth.
In this article, we’ll explore when it’s safe to start running after pregnancy, what signs and symptoms to watch for that may require you to do a little rehab work first, and offer some tips for new moms looking to lace up their running shoes again. Let’s dive in and take a good look at everything to consider as you gear up to hit the pavement on your first postpartum run.
For a real life story of what it actually looks like to return to running after pregnancy (especially if you have diastasis recti or prolapse), check out my own not-so-glamourous return to running story here.
The Postpartum Journey
The postpartum period, often referred to as the “fourth trimester,” is a time of significant adjustment for new mothers. Your body is still recovering from the physical stress of pregnancy and childbirth, and your hormones are adjusting as well. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care and listen to your body during this time.
Consult with a Healthcare Professional
Before embarking on any postpartum fitness journey, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your specific situation, taking into account factors such as your delivery method (vaginal or cesarean), any complications during pregnancy or childbirth, and your overall health. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide personalized guidance on when it’s safe for you to resume running and other physical activities.
The timing of when you can safely start running again after pregnancy can vary widely from one woman to another. Generally, most healthcare providers advise waiting until at least six weeks postpartum before engaging in more strenuous exercises like running. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all rule. Some women may need more time, while others may be ready sooner. It all depends on individual factors and your unique recovery process.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Regardless of the recommended timeline, it’s crucial to pay close attention to how your body feels during the postpartum period. If you experience any pain, discomfort, or unusual symptoms, it’s essential to stop and consult with your healthcare provider. Pushing yourself too hard or too soon can lead to injuries and hinder your overall recovery.
Postpartum Physical Changes
Pregnancy and childbirth can bring about various physical changes that can affect your ability to run and exercise comfortably. Some of these changes include:
1. Pelvic Floor Weakness
The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in stability and support during running. Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken these muscles, leading to issues like urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises, often referred to as Kegels, can help strengthen these muscles before resuming running.
2. Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. This can affect core strength and stability, making it important to address before engaging in high-impact activities like running. Consult with a physical therapist or fitness professional who specializes in postpartum recovery for guidance on healing diastasis recti.
3. Joint and Ligament Changes
The hormone relaxin, which increases during pregnancy, can lead to increased joint laxity. This can make you more susceptible to joint injuries during high-impact activities like running. Gradual strength training and low-impact exercises can help stabilize your joints before returning to running.
4. Hormonal Changes
Hormonal fluctuations postpartum can affect your energy levels, mood, and overall well-being. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and not push too hard, especially in the early postpartum period when sleep deprivation and adjusting to a new routine can be challenging.
Safe Return to Running after Pregnancy
Once you’ve received the green light from your healthcare provider and addressed any specific postpartum concerns, you can begin a gradual return to running. Here are some tips to help you safely resume this activity:
1. Start Slowly
Begin with brisk walking or light jogging and gradually increase your intensity and duration. Your body needs time to rebuild strength and endurance.
2. Listen to Your Body
Pay close attention to how you feel during and after each run. If you experience pain, discomfort, or excessive fatigue, scale back and give your body more time to recover.
3. Supportive Gear
Invest in a high-quality sports bra that provides adequate support for your postpartum breasts. Proper footwear is also crucial to minimize the risk of injury.
4. Core and Pelvic Floor Exercises
Incorporate exercises to strengthen your core and pelvic floor into your fitness routine. These exercises are essential for stability and preventing issues like urinary incontinence and back pain. A program like Core Corrective will help immensely.
5. Stay Hydrated and Nourished
Proper hydration and nutrition are vital for postpartum recovery and maintaining your energy levels. Be sure to stay hydrated and fuel your body with nutritious foods.
6. Rest and Recovery
Don’t underestimate the importance of rest and recovery. Your body needs time to heal, and adequate sleep is essential for overall well-being.
7. Seek Support
Consider joining a postpartum fitness group or connecting with other new moms who are on a similar journey. Having a support system can be motivating and provide valuable insights. We have an awesome free Facebook Group full of amazing supportive moms on the same journey as you.
Running Form and Posture
As a new mom venturing back into running after pregnancy, focusing on correct running posture and form is essential for several reasons. Not only does it reduce the risk of injuries, but it also helps you maximize the benefits of your workouts while minimizing unnecessary strain on your postpartum body. In this section, we’ll delve into the importance of proper running posture and form and offer practical tips to help you maintain it.
Why Correct Running Posture and Form Matters when Running After Pregnancy
- Injury Prevention: Proper running posture and form reduce the risk of common running injuries, such as shin splints, knee pain, and lower back discomfort. These injuries can be especially problematic for new moms who are already navigating the physical changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth.
- Efficiency: Correct running form enhances your running efficiency, allowing you to use less energy while covering the same distance. This efficiency is particularly valuable when you have limited time and energy as a new mom.
- Core Strength: Paying attention to your posture and form engages your core muscles, which can aid in the recovery of your abdominal muscles after pregnancy and help prevent issues like diastasis recti.
Tips for Correct Running Posture and Form
- Head Position: Keep your head up, looking straight ahead, rather than down at your feet. Imagine a string pulling you gently upward from the top of your head, aligning your neck and spine.
- Shoulder Placement: Relax your shoulders and let them fall naturally, avoiding hunching or excessive tension. Engaging your upper back and keeping your shoulders back can help maintain good posture.
- Arm Swing: Your arms should swing naturally by your sides, not crossing over your body. Maintain a 90-degree angle at your elbows and avoid clenching your fists.
- Core Engagement: Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button toward your spine. This not only supports your posture but also helps strengthen your core.
- Hip Alignment: Keep your hips level and avoid excessive rotation. Proper hip alignment can prevent hip and lower back pain.
- Stride Length: Maintain a comfortable stride length. Overstriding (taking overly long steps) can lead to injury, so focus on a shorter, quicker stride.
- Footstrike: Aim for a midfoot or forefoot strike rather than striking with your heel. This can reduce the impact on your joints and lower the risk of injuries like shin splints.
- Push, don’t Pull: As you run, think of pushing your self forward from behind with your glutes, not pulling yourself forward with your quads.
- Breathing: Pay attention to your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth to ensure you’re getting enough oxygen.
- Relaxation: Stay relaxed and loose throughout your body. Tension can lead to inefficient movement and increased risk of injury.
- Gradual Progress: Finally, remember that achieving perfect running posture and form may take time. Start slowly and work on these aspects one at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself.
How to Run Strong, Mama
As an avid distance runner, I love a good running plan! But after having kids, I discovered that there were almost zero plans that accounted for new moms needing to start slow and build up to running again after pregnancy. I needed a plan not just to add mileage or or hit a new PR, but also to rebuild my strength, my core, my stamina. and my runner’s muscles. So, I created a program just for moms that did all those things. Run Strong Mama is a power-packed, 6 week run and strength training experience that will help you build a strong, fast, and working postpartum runner’s body. You will improve your speed, your form, your function, and your strength so that you can run as far and as fast as you want without pain, peeing, or problems. RSM gives you 3 different run training plans depending on your run level, from walk-run plans, to running for time. If you’re a mom who loaves to run or a mom who’s ready to get started, Run Strong Mama will have you running strong and fast in 6-12 weeks, which repairing your core and pelvic floor along the way. Say goodbye to peeing yourself at mile 2! Check out Run Strong Mama here.
Returning to running after pregnancy is a goal that many new moms aspire to achieve. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety, listen to your body, and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider. Every woman’s postpartum journey is unique, and it’s crucial to honor your individual needs and recovery process.
Remember that postpartum fitness is about more than just running; it’s about overall well-being and self-care. Most importantly, it’s critical to repair your core and pelvic floor before you even think about running again. A target core rehab program like the Core Corrective is the best place to start your healing journey. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your achievements, and embrace the beautiful journey of motherhood. With time, dedication, and the right support, you can safely and effectively resume running and enjoy the physical and mental benefits it brings to your life as a new mom.