10 Jul Return to Running Post-Pregnancy
This blog will outline the factors to consider for returning to running after child birth.
Jodie, one of our physiotherapists, has written a blog about her personal experience returning to running after pregnancy. Click HERE to read more.
Following child birth, physical activity (e.g. running) improves:
- Weight control
It is recommended to wait until at least 12 weeks post-partum before returning to high intensity activities such as running. This time is needed to allow natural body healing, particularly the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdominals which are often impacted during pregnancy and birth.
The Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel.
During pregnancy, pelvic floor muscles:
- Support the weight of the growing baby, as well as your bladder and bowel.
- Are softened by the effects of pregnancy hormones
- Undergo considerable stretching and tearing during vaginal birth
- Are also weakened following
- Larger babies
Therefore it is common to experience difficulties with controlling your bladder and bowel post-partum. This is the primary reason for restricting high-intensity activity before the 12-week mark. It is recommended to follow a low-impact, guided exercise rehabilitation plan within the first 3 months of the postnatal period. This can be delivered by your physiotherapist.
It is expected that every woman, regardless of delivery mode, completes pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, and from the first few days after child birth. Physiotherapists can facilitate your technique and progression of these exercises.
Consideration of return to running after child-birth ties together two important streams of physiotherapy: musculoskeletal/sports and women’s health.
Musculoskeletal/Sports Physiotherapists (e.g. the Physios at SportsFit) manage common musculoskeletal issues during- and post-pregnancy such as:
- Pelvic- and back-pain
- Completing low-impact rehabilitation
- Returning to high-impact activities
Women’s health physiotherapists can additionally provide expertise regarding:
- Abdominal wall and pelvic function
- Pelvic organ prolapse (including prevention)
- Sexual function
- Persistent pain
Your musculoskeletal physiotherapist will liaise with your women’s health physiotherapist as appropriate in your care. If you are experiencing any of the following signs/symptoms, we suggest first consulting with a women’s health physiotherapist:
- Urinary and/or faecal incontinence
- Heaviness/pressure/bulge/dragging in pelvic area
- Pain with intercourse
- Pendular abdomen or separated abdominal muscles
- Ongoing or increased blood loss beyond 8 weeks postnatal that is not linked to your monthly cycle
Every mother and every pregnancy is different. Consulting with a physiotherapist will help tailor care to your individual needs. By having a strong support network and utilising the combined expertise of both women’s health and musculoskeletal/sports physiotherapists, you can safely and effectively return to high level activity after pregnancy.
Goom, T., Donnelly, G., & Brockwell, E. (2019). Returning to running postnatal–guidelines for medical, health and fitness professionals managing this population.