4 Tips on Returning to Running Postpartum Successfully

When it comes to returning to running postpartum, there is a lot of confusion out there on what to do and when to do it, how much to do and what not to do.

Here are some tips to clear those things up.

What NOT to do:

Don’t do what I did after the birth of my second by starting with too much too soon. I ended up prolonging my overall recovery in the long run. I just wanted to be able to run and feel normal again, and so I pushed the mileage and the frequency…and I paid for it. 

As a runner, I found it difficult, frustrating and upsetting reading posts in the running facebook groups I was in about moms who were returning even earlier than 6 weeks!! 

And now, when I see those kinds of posts, I think: 

No, just no.

Don’t head back before your body has healed and is ready. It’s not safe or sensible to head back to the road or trails too soon.

How to return to running postpartum safely

My own return to running journey has made me super passionate about helping other moms. I want moms to return to running safely and in the BEST way possible.

Since the birth of my third baby, my recovery and return to running postpartum has been SO much better. I’m able to run more consistently a LOT sooner than I was with my son a few years ago.

I’ve done research and applied the principles and I can say for sure that following these 4 tips works!!

Don’t muddle your way through it and try to figure out what you need to do. Here’s your 4 step plan on returning to running postpartum. AND here’s how you can do it without injury and rehab your pelvic floor safely: 

Number One: Build Your Aerobic Base

Start as soon as you’re ready after birth with easy walks. Build the intensity, frequency and duration as you’re able.

Number 2: Incorporate strength training

Do NOT skip this part! You HAVE to make sure that all the muscles involved with running are strong enough to support you before you actually start running. Otherwise, you are at risk for injury AND pelvic floor symptoms.

Number 3: Make sure you’re at least 12 weeks postpartum

At 12 weeks, if you’ve done #1 &2 you can begin a gradual return to run program.

Healing takes a lot longer than most realize

When you go for your 6-week check up after giving birth, your body is hardly ready to resume regular activity.

The “all clear” at your 6 week follow up is actually old advice.

Most doctors are not familiar with proper rehab and recovery after having a baby. Sure, things might look/feel ok by their standards.

However, that doesn’t mean that your pelvic floor is healed enough to return to your prior level of function or other high impact activities like lifting weights, running or HIIT (high intensity interval training).

If you delivered vaginally, total healing time for the muscles, connective tissue, nerves, joints, etc. involved in the birthing process actually takes between 4 and 6 months.

If you delivered via cesarean, your abdominal tissues take 6-7 months to regain 73%-93% of it’s previous strength.

Point being, our bodies are still healing even when our little ones are already learning to sit up and crawl!

Number 4: Have a PT do a return to run readiness assessment

To really make sure your body is ready to withstand the forces and demands of running, get checked out by a PT in person or online.

A physical therapist can do a full assessment of your strength, your balance and your body’s overall ability to return to running safely.

Want More Guidance on Returning to Running Postpartum?

Want more guidance on how to execute the above? Send me a message to set up your FREE Postpartum Return to Run Planning session. I can help you get clear on a plan that is right for you to return to running postpartum!

Other articles of interest:

FREE Guide to Pelvic Floor Exercises after Baby!

Is Breastfeeding Affected by Running?

How to Run with Baby in Winter

8 Ways to Make Time for Your Runs

Ways to workout with kids

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