Resuming running quickly postpartum is possible. On the other hand, not every mom will start over at the same pace, and that's perfect! We will talk here about the issues of returning to running after childbirth.
New moms are often in a rush to get back to training postpartum. However, many pregnant women reduce their level of physical activity, or even stop their sports completely, during pregnancy. You have to understand that running is not a sport to be avoided during pregnancy, especially if mum was a runner before. Remember that the Canadian guideline for physical therapy throughout pregnancy 2019 recommends that every pregnant woman, whose pregnancy is without complications, practice an aerobic sport for 150 minutes or more per week. Women who run during pregnancy may be able to resume running training sooner after giving birth, especially if the birth was uneventful. It should be understood that a sedentary lifestyle or a decrease in the level of activity during pregnancy is detrimental to the return to running: the mother loses her shape.physical and must give himself time to regain it before returning to an impact sport like running after giving birth.
Three factors to consider for a safe return to running
Every new mom needs to listen to her body after giving birth to determine when it is safe to get back to running. A delivery where forceps were used, an episiotomy performed, a large perineal tear occurred, or a Caesarean section performed may affect the time to return to training. Some complications of childbirth can cause urogynecological symptoms afterwards, such as urinary loss, a feeling of heaviness in the perineum or pain in the genitals. It's generally recommended that you don't experience these symptoms at rest before you consider putting your running shoes on for a running workout.
Ligament laxity persists more in breastfeeding mothers, since estrogen remains at low levels. This leads to a higher risk of musculoskeletal injuries or the urogynecological disorders mentioned above. It is therefore necessary to gradually return to running after childbirth not only to avoid disorders in the pelvic floor, but also all injuries to the rest of the body. It is also recommended to breastfeed before your race outing so that the chest is lighter and less engorged.
3. Pelvic floor &cie
It is now well established that every woman who has just given birth should practice exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, even if she does not experience any symptoms. The rapid execution of the famous Kegels optimizes the recovery of the muscles of the pelvic floor. Also, before considering a return to running, it is good to do a muscular re-education of the abdominals, posture and breathing. Do not hesitate to consult a physiotherapist in perineal rehabilitation to assess you and advise you on your return to running.
How to start the race again after baby then?
The scientific literature suggests resuming training, including running, in a gradual and individualized way after childbirth. There is therefore no specific deadline for the return to racing. However, here are some tips that will help you ensure a safe return.
1. Resume running when you have no urogynecological symptoms (urinary loss, perineal heaviness, perineal pain, etc.) at rest and in your daily life.
2. Resume running in an interval program alternating between walking and running. Consider all activities of daily living (standing, shelling, carrying, baby care, etc.) to calculate the stress placed on your perineum, so as not to overload it and to avoid the development of urogynecological problems. Then choose your workout times based on all youractivities.
3. Practice running without leaking urine or having an urgent urge to urinate, without feeling heaviness in the pelvic perineal region and without experiencing pain in the perineum or elsewhere. The absence of symptoms must be during your run, but also up to 24 hours after your workout.
Happy gradual return to racing!
Douanka Gendreau, Physiotherapist in perineal and pelvic rehabilitation at Clinique Pelvi-Santé
- Bo et al. Exercise and pregnancy in recreational and elite athletes: 2016/17 evidence summary from IOC Expert Group Meeting, Lausanne. Units 1-2-3. BJSM 2016, 50: 571-589+1297-1305. BJSM 2017, 0:1-10.
- Committee Opinion of ACOG. Physical Activity and Exercise during Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. 2015 (re-affirmed 2017), No. 650.
- Mottola et al. 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity through pregnancy. BJSM 2018, 52: 1339-1346.