How to Return to Running After Pregnancy
Can I still run while pregnant?
It’s normal to feel like you’re in a different person’s body after pregnancy. However, no matter how much you want to return to your old strength and physical state, it’s not exactly advisable to jump into rigorous training right away—even if you had no problems doing it before. This is particularly true if you’re looking to go back to running, which is one exercise that is extremely beneficial to your body, but must be done with some caution for postpartum women.
If you’re itching to start running again after pregnancy, here are some things to remember.
CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR
Before anything, it’s best to consult your doctor and pelvic health physiotherapist about your plans. They can give you a general timeline for how long you should be resting before exercising, as well as recommended postpartum exercises to help you get your body back in tip-top shape. It can be frustrating to see your postpartum self fall behind your fitness goals, but the fact that you’re making an effort to get active is a feat worth celebrating in itself.
The postpartum period can leave your body feeling sluggish, heavy, and more tired than it’s used to. So as much as you want to push yourself to the limit, it might not be the best idea. As previously discussed here on Westcoast SCI, one of the leading causes of running injuries includes increasing your speed, distance and frequency too quickly. Start by jogging at a comfortable pace and talk to your physiotherapist on the appropriate jog / walk interval times, the distance and what weekly frequency to start with. Remember to gradually increase one variable at a time; speed, distance, frequency.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR PELVIC MUSCLES
Just like your own house needs a good foundation to function, the pelvic floor is the base on which all your lower organs are built on. After giving birth, that foundation is stretched to its limits. So immediately doing high-impact exercises like running without strengthening it first can lead to conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse and urine leakage. As such, before you start exercising, physiotherapist Mary Wood highly encourages strengthening your pelvic muscles first. Normally, your doctor will have you doing kegels for a few weeks, before moving onto exercises that incorporate whole body movement and the pelvic floor muscles with exercise such as bridges and dead bugs.
Natasha, one of our Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists doing Bridges.
Natasha, one of our Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists doing Deadbugs.
WORK ON YOUR CORE
It’s easy to assume that your legs and ankles do most of the work when it comes to running. However, most of the movement is actually generated from your core, downwards. Unfortunately, your core becomes much weaker during those postpartum days, and you may even be dealing with some diastasis recti—a condition where the abdominal muscles separate. According to a report on Vox, it affects at least 60 percent of postpartum women everywhere. This muscular imbalance not only causes discomfort and pain, but it could even injure your hip flexors and lower back if not treated well. As such, you’ll want to complement your running program with some exercises to help heal your abdominal wall. It doesn’t even have to be elaborate, as Pain Free Working shares that you can even train your core from your own chair. Simple tricks like sitting on a stability ball, working on your breathing while activating your abs, and hovering your feet can strengthen the core.
EAT EXTRA CALORIES
Breastfeeding is an important part of your baby’s nutrition, as it’s the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and other nutrients your baby needs to grow. However, studies on Healthy Eating show how milk production raises a breastfeeding mother’s metabolism by at least 300 calories per day, making it easier for energy to burn out. If you want to maintain the ideal stamina for running, then you have to make sure that you’re eating more calories than usual. Food such as potatoes and pasta, for example, are high in starch and are a healthy source of energy.
Getting back into fitness after pregnancy can be a frustrating process. But despite everything, it’s important to remember that nothing is permanent. With patience, commitment and professional guidance, you’ll be back on track to your physical goals—maybe even stronger this time.
Content intended only for the use of westcoastsci.com by Alma Hum.