Postpartum Running - Are You Ready?
Did you recently give birth and are looking to get back into running? Have you already started running postpartum but are wondering if you should be right now? Although there are no standardized guidelines on when you should begin running again, there are quite a few questions you should be asking yourself first (Goom et al 2019).
Some of those questions you should ask yourself prior to taking up running after childbirth include:
Am I at least three months postpartum?
It is not recommended to begin running prior to three months postpartum in order to allow your body ample time to heal.
Do I have any heaviness in the lower abdomen and/or pelvis?
Am I having any urinary leakage or difficulty controlling my bowel movements?
Have I noticed bulging through an abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti)?
Am I experiencing any pelvic pain or low back pain?
In general, it is recommended to have an evaluation by a pelvic floor physical therapist after childbirth to assess the pelvic floor and core musculature for any dysfunction (Goom et al 2019). However, If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may want to schedule an evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist sooner rather than later to assess your readiness to return to running.
To assess your body’s ability to safely return to running, see if you are able to (Goom et al 2019):
Walk for 30 minutes
Balance on either leg for 10 seconds
Complete 10 single leg squats on each leg
Jog in place for one minute
Hop forwards 10 times
Complete 10 repetitions of single leg running man
If any of these cause pain, a sensation of heaviness in the lower abdomen/ pelvis, bulging through an abdominal separation or cause you to experience urinary and/or fecal incontinence, your body might not be ready for you to begin running quite yet (Goom et al 2019).
In addition to the above assessment, strength testing will help to determine areas that may need to be improved upon prior to running. These strength tests include (Goom et al 2019):
20 repetitions of single leg calf raises on each side
20 repetitions of single leg bridges on each side
20 repetitions of single leg sit to stands on each side
20 repetitions of side lying abduction on each side
These strength tests are to identify areas of weakness and do not necessarily mean that you are unable to begin a running program (Goom et al 2019). If, however, these strength tests indicate weakness AND you are experiencing pain, heaviness, bulging through an abdominal separation, or incontinence, it is recommended to seek out a pelvic floor physical therapist for a thorough evaluation.
Regardless of if you are experiencing any symptoms of dysfunction, if you are concerned about your readiness to return to running, you should schedule an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. Whether you are four weeks, four months, or four years (or more!) postpartum, we will assess and address your individualized needs as there is no “one size fits all” approach.
Just because your body may not be ready to run right now, that does not mean you won’t be able to run ever again! We want to make sure that your body is safe and ready to support you when you do start running again. Healthy Core therapists can help you achieve that! Contact us to learn more at (330)528-0034.
written by Regina Saxon, DPT
Goom, T., Donnelly, G., & Brockwell, E. (2019). Returning to running postnatal – guidelines for medical, health and fitness professionals managing this population.