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Return to Running ~ Postpartum

Updated: Jun 5

Return to Running

If you're someone who enjoyed running before giving birth, it can be confusing and frustrating to know when your body is ready to return postpartum. Before you fully return to running, it's helpful to consider how to most effectively prevent injury, discourage diastasis recti, and protect your pelvic floor.

Before You Return to Running ~ 3 Important Areas of Consideration

Am I experiencing prolapse symptoms? 

If you're experiencing pelvic pain or heaviness after prolonged activity or walks, you may be experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. Because running is such a high impact activity, it's especially important if you have a prolapse to work on hip and abdominal strengthening, as well as deep core coordination and strength. If you have prolapse symptoms and you want to return to running, your pelvic floor therapist or OBGYN might suggest you wear a pessary, which is an adaptive device that inserts into your vaginal canal to help support the surrounding musculature. Many people wear pessaries during running to prevent leaking and feelings of heaviness. 

How do I feel after a long walk or prolonged activity? 

If you're experiencing fatigue, achiness in your hip, discomfort in your feet after prolonged activity, you may need to strengthen your core and hip musculature in order to prepare for your return to running. If you're already fatigued after a short walk, it may not be a great idea to start running quite yet.

How far am I postpartum? 

Many people might feel like it's time to start running once their midwife or OBGYN clears them for exercise at 6 weeks. Although you may return to mild or moderate intensity exercise at this time, we also know that for many people, postpartum healing can take 6 to 18 months. Although that may sound frustrating, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know your body better, and work on strengthening and lengthening the right structures in order to optimize your running performance, helping you feel confident and stable. 

5 Tips to Improve & Strengthen Your Body

1) Strengthen your hips and lower extremities

Return to Running

By practicing mindfulness during functional tasks, you can use tasks such as sitting back into your chair or bending down to greet your baby on the floor, as built in strengthening opportunities. Tune into your movement patterns throughout the day, and see how many mini squats or deadlifts you can naturally sneak in.  If you are an exercise-motivated person, it may also help to integrate the following movements into your routine: glute bridges, lunges, squats, deadlifts and calf raises.

2) Develop your balance and coordination 

Your pregnant and postpartum body has had to adjust to many changes in center of mass, which may have impacted your sense of balance. By working on the following movements, your integrating strengthening into balance & coordination work. Exercises: single leg “Running Man” with opposite arm and knee flexion. single leg hops, and single leg calf raises

3) Learn to let your belly hang

Many postpartum people make that mistake of thinking that they need to brace their core the whole time that they're running. This creates unnecessary pelvic tension and guarding. One supportive strategy is becoming more mindful of how you hold your belly throughout the day. Tune into your body after a frustrating phone call, a hard moment in traffic, or a stressful email. Do you tend to respond by sucking in your core? Allowing the core to relax facilitates more strength and coordination when we need it. 

4) Learning to stack your ribs

Finding a more optimal posture is a great way to ensure that your core can be as responsive as possible. When they first return to running, many people compensate for a lack of core strength by flaring their ribcage out. Finding the sensation of your ribcage stacked over your pelvis, with ribs slightly turned downwards, can be the key to finding the difference between supportive running or not.

5) Starting slow 

Return to Running

You don't have to go straight. from walking to running. There can be many transitional exercises in between. To help to start your transition, first try walking slowly up a big hill. Be mindful of what your posture is doing, how your core is responding, and how your pelvic floor feels during and after. Once you feel confident with that, you can play with speed. You can practice walking quickly on flat pavement, and then eventually progress to walking quickly up inclines (aka hiking). If that feels comfortable, start off by doing shorter sprints followed by fast walking. You can try 1 minute of running, and then 5 minutes of walking, and then decrease walking intervals overtime. 

Returning to running postpartum can be a journey. Our pelvic floor therapists will work with you on your individual goals, which can really make a difference.

Return to Running

PS: We support people in all sorts of physical activity! But we often find that many people think that they have to run for cardio, even if they don’t enjoy it. There are many ways to get your cardio in–walking, dancing, and biking are great ways to increase your heart health without having to run if that's not your thing. The movement routines that you enjoy will be the most sustainable long-term. 


If you have pelvic health concerns and would like to see how our therapists at Embrace can help, follow the link to schedule your free discovery call.

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