Updated: Jul 12, 2022
It's so tempting to get those running shoes on as soon as you feel up to it postpartum.
But you have just undergone an incredibly fast and intense transformation. You went from carrying a human in your body for almost a year, to not, in a matter of hours or days!
That means it's going to take some time to return to high impact activities such as running, jumping, and lifting.
And it's going to take some serious and focused rehabilitation during that time to prevent injuries and promote a successful return to running.
I typically tell my moms to wait at least 12 weeks postpartum before they start running, which is in accordance with the 2019 postpartum exercise guidelines.
People who wait at least 12 weeks postpartum to resume high impact activities such as running, are at a decreased risk of developing urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, muscular injuries, and hernias.
I know 12 weeks sounds like an eternity, but the pelvic floor muscles stretch to accommodate the pregnancy and childbirth, and do not resume tensile strength until 4-6 months postpartum.
Remember, the pelvic floor muscles function as our sphincters and support system for our organs, so further compromise them at your own peril!
So what can you do early postpartum?
Early postpartum rehabilitation is essential. It's important to ride the wave of natural tissue healing and hormone changes in the first three months postpartum.
This is a critical time to address abdominal separation and pelvic floor muscle integrity.
It is also critical to aggressively address prolapse symptoms that arise during this time.
See your pelvic floor physical therapist no later than 6 weeks postpartum for an individual assessment of your core system and specific instructions for rehabilitation.
Moms may have different needs for early postpartum rehabilitation based on what type of delivery they had.
If you are dealing with issues like pee leaks, pain or prolapse well before the 6-week mark, make your appointment earlier!
Return To Running Protocol
For my moms that want to get back to running, we start with early postpartum rehabilitation of the abdominal wall, pelvic floor, and breathing mechanics.
We then start to load the core system and larger muscles in the pelvis with mat work.
From there, we build into strengthening in standing, and eventually into jumping.
Once mamas can pass my return to running test it's time to try running!
My return to running test includes:
Single leg bridges
Single leg sit-to-stands
Single leg squats
Single leg jumps
With no pee leaks, pelvic pain, prolapse symptoms, and good technique!
Once mamas have passed these tests, it's time to run. We start with small distances of 10-20 minutes at a time with a day in between. If this goes well with no aggravation of symptoms, we can increase! If symptoms show up, we take a step back and reanalyze.
Running postpartum is a big deal. Your body has just morphed drastically from carrying a human to not.
The early postpartum period is a time to gingerly nurture and care for yourself, and to begin gentle core rehabilitation.
If you're wanting to get started with running make sure you book a session with me today!
If you don't live in New Mexico, you can still work with me. Make sure to contact me about scheduling a remote consult today!