How To Return To Running Safely Postpartum

Exercise offers many benefits postpartum, whether it helps you lose your pregnancy weight, boosts mood and self image, and helps you feel overall stronger. After being cleared at your 6 week check up, tune in with how you are feeling overall: Do you have any pain from healing scars or perineal/ pelvic discomfort? Do you also have involuntary leaking of urine, feeling of heaviness or pressure in the vagina, back pain, or abdominal separation? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to first get a full assessment by a pelvic floor physical therapist before you start any exercise routine. 

It is important to note that your body needs time to heal from childbirth. Having a vaginal delivery versus a cesarean birth have different timelines for healing, pain location, and effect on your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, the feeling of pelvic heaviness, and also urinary incontinence. Abdominal separation and weakness will cause increased stress on the spine and the low back muscles. In the first 3 months postpartum, the focus will need to be on proper rehabilitation of the pelvic floor and core muscles in physical therapy with low impact exercises. 

A Few Tips To Get Back To Running Postpartum: 

  1. You are at least 3 months postpartum and don’t have the symptoms noted above. Studies show that this is a good time frame to allow for proper healing of scars and tissues after childbirth. It may be longer with a cesarean birth.
  2. You don’t have any joint pain (knees, ankles) if you are still breastfeeding/ pumping due to the affects of hormones and increased joint laxity. Hydrate well and schedule the feeding/ pumping prior to running. 
  3. Wear a well fitted sports bra and high waisted compression leggings. This can help provide a little more support to your trunk and pelvis while you are still working to strengthen those muscles. A light abdominal binder or compression tops are also good options to wear during your run.
  4. Check your footwear. The size of your feet can change during pregnancy and you would want running shoes that will provide good arch support and has a proper fit.
  5. Start by alternating a brisk walk and a few minutes of running, a few times a week. Monitor for any symptoms or pain and gradually increase distance and time every week. 

Reach me if I can answer any questions on physical therapy, serving you locally in New York City or anywhere online virtually through “telehealth“.

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