For many women, running is the ultimate act of self-care. It combines physical activity with a quiet mind and a healthy dose of nature. While out on the trail, runners experience a sense of peace, strength, and accomplishment. If you’re a new mom, you may be wondering how soon you can start running again. You want to feel strong and start getting back in shape. Every practitioner has a different recommendation for how soon you can run postpartum. Because every body and pregnancy is different, the best time for you to start running again depends on many factors. As much as you want to jump back into your routine, it takes time for your body to heal. Here are eight tips for returning to your running routine after pregnancy.
1. Check the Research
In 2019, a running physiotherapist partnered with two pelvic health physiotherapists to establish guidelines for women running postpartum. This U.K. study by Goom, Brockwell, and Donnelly raises concerns about injury for moms who start running too soon postpartum. These professionals recommend waiting a full 12 weeks minimum before resuming full-on running. Compared to many other workouts, running is high-intensity and requires a strong core and stable pelvic floor. These areas of your body take time to heal after pregnancy.
2. Walk It Out
To get back into running, you need to strengthen the right muscle groups with low-intensity exercise. Walking is the perfect way to do this – it addresses the same muscle groups but is very gentle on your body. Going for a brisk walk improves blood flow and can even help balance your mood and mental health. If you can walk briskly for 30 minutes without any pain, leakage, or bleeding, you may be ready to start running again.
3. Fuel Your Body
Every serious athlete knows that nutrition has a huge impact on their performance. During the postpartum period, it’s especially important that you nourish your body with essential vitamins and minerals. Food gives your body the tools it needs to heal and regain energy. Stay hydrated and eat foods that support your immune system and reduce inflammation. If you eat well, you’ll recover faster and be ready to run sooner.
4. Get Plenty of Rest
This is your permission to go to sleep anytime during your postpartum weeks guilt-free. After birth, your job is to heal so you can be there for your family. Getting quality rest is an essential part of physical and emotional healing. While you sleep, your body repairs and restores itself. Inflammation goes down, energy levels go up, and your brain prepares for another day. Quality rest is essential if you want to start running again soon.
5. Address Your Pelvic Floor
The muscles in your pelvic floor support organs like your bladder and uterus. If these muscles are damaged by birth, you can experience bladder leakage, pressure in your vaginal area, and pain during sex. Many women go to pelvic floor therapy after birth to restore these muscles to their normal function. Whether or not you have symptoms of damage, it’s a good idea to speak with a pelvic floor physiotherapist before you start running again.
6. Strengthen Your Core
Your core muscles also take a hit during pregnancy. Many women experience a separation of muscles in their abdomen during late pregnancy. This is diagnosed as diastasis recti and requires physical therapy to help you recover. If your core was a box, the pelvic floor would be the bottom. It’s important for you to strengthen and heal all sides of your core before you start doing high-intensity workouts like running. Jumping in too soon could lead to injury.
7. Follow a Plan
Having a postpartum exercise plan will help you get in shape so you can run again as soon as possible. Start with walking and other gentle exercises that target large muscle groups. Go easy on yourself and take your time. Jumping in place, bird dogs, and squats can all help you prepare for running again. Research gentle movements that strengthen your core and pace yourself. Slow and steady exercise will help you regain stability so you can run again.
8. Monitor Symptoms
After you start running again, pay attention to how you feel. Be gentle with yourself and get plenty of rest after each workout. You shouldn’t push your body too hard until it’s recovered from the monumental effort of giving birth. If you experience any pain, bleeding, or leakage, talk to your doctor. Be patient and willing to slow down if needed. You will feel like yourself again, but the process may take more time than you’d like.
You Will Run Again
Postpartum healing takes time. Don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling with basic exercises. If you keep taking care of yourself, you will regain your strength and be able to hit the trail again. Start with gentle workouts and remember that rest and nutrition are vital. While you wait, enjoy every minute with your little one. Someday, you can teach your child the basics of self-care and even induct them into running with you. Until then, your job is to heal and let your body find balance again.