How long after giving birth can I return to running is a very common question by pregnant and new mums.
Running is associated with so many physical and mental health benefits, it’s no wonder that so many new mums are keen to return to running again postpartum.
So let’s discuss some important changes that happen after giving birth, and some factors to consider, when you’re thinking about how long after birth you can start running again. Every journey is different, so listen to your body and consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
Changes to the body that occur after giving birth:
As a result of pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor area can become stretched and weakened. In fact, after having a baby, 1 in 3 women have incontinence (accidental leakage of urine), and 1 in 2 women have some type of prolapse (according to the Continence Foundation of Australia). These statistics are sobering, which is why it is so important to pay attention to this area, and not rush returning to running.
If we think of the pelvic floor area like an elastic band that gets stretched during childbirth, after birth we want that natural recoil to occur as much as possible. So let’s discuss some ways to help support that natural recovery postpartum, so that we are creating solid foundations upon which we can return to running with confidence.
What factors need to be taken into consideration when it comes to returning to running after giving birth?
– Fitness / running levels before and during pregnancy.
– Type of birth. Any instrumental delivery, forceps, difficult labour etc might all affect recovery timelines.
– Previous births.
– Pre-existing medical conditions.
– Pre-existing pelvic floor, or low back issues.
– Sleep deprivation / mental health.
– Caesarean births / Perineal scarring
What stages are in the return to running recovery process?
Weeks 0-6 after birth.
– This first 6 weeks we are wanting to support as much natural recovery as possible.
– Less is often more. Start with gentle walking, building up duration gradually.
– Gentle functional movements (eg body weight squats, bridges etc).
– Focus on pelvic floor recovery, horizontal rest and reduce the amount of lifting (e.g try to lift nothing heavier than your baby for the first 6 weeks).
Weeks 6-12 after giving birth.
– Recommended review with GP.
– Pelvic floor screening.
– Ongoing pelvic floor rehab.
– Gradual progression of strength / core exercises.
– Remain low impact (e.g no running just yet, but could add stationary bike, up-hill walking etc if feeling up to it).
Weeks 12+ after giving birth
– Consider if you’re really ready to return to running postpartum. One person at 12 weeks postpartum can look very different to another (consider sleep deprivation, exercise levels etc). Rather than focussing on the time period post birth, consider your recovery/rehab up until this point.
– Check out this free return to running checklist.
– Consider if you’re ready to start a gradual return to running program.
To summarise, with return to running after birth, consider:
– Your pre-existing fitness and health.
– Your birth experience and recovery.
– Your pelvic floor and postnatal rehab plan.
– Your return to running plan.
– Seek help and support from your healthcare provider.
Next steps to support your return to running plan after birth:
– Download your free postnatal return to running checklist here.
– Consider this free trial of the FitNest 12 week Return to Running Program.
Free Return to Running Checklist
Free 7 Day Trial Pregnancy / Postnatal Workouts