Postpartum Running: To run or not to run?

17 January 2020

Postpartum Running: To run or not to run?

person_outlineLisa Few
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To run or not to run is probably my most frequently asked question when I see my post natal mums.

When can I start running?  It is such a hard question to answer because every pregnancy, delivery, body, tissue structure and post natal experience is different.

Up until recently I always tended to advise my patients that providing:

  1. If there are no continence issues or any pelvic organ prolapses.

  2. And if there has been a gradual build up of personal endurance and strength training.

Then at 6 months post natally would be a good time to start.  But then I went on a course for the post natal athlete patient where the presenter, a well know, well respected physiotherapist questioned this. She asked if perhaps as women’s health physiotherapists we were holding our post natal mums back from the higher impact training that some are really keen to get back to.

I totally understand why so many of my post natal mums love to run, it is easy, it is quick and it gets you out of the house and if you are lucky out of the bath time routine! So I have had my eyes opened and it has got me asking so many questions and looking at my post natal rehab programmes for my mums.  Maybe it is ok for some of our post natal mums to return to higher impact exercise earlier than 6 months?

  

However, one over riding theme came out of the weekend of training is that it is so important to know what your pelvic floor is doing before you start any high level exercise. It is then just as important to get it re assessed after a few weeks of doing the exercise or if  you start feeling any symptoms.

  

Those symptoms may include:

  1. A heavy, dragging sensation which can be the symptoms of a prolapse.

  2. Urinary incontinence, and any amount is not normal! So if you do get any urinary incontinence then it may be a sign that your pelvic floor muscle is either not working as it should do. Or the muscle is weak with a poor endurance and just like every other muscle in our body, we need to work at these things. 

     

It is not always necessary to stop running whilst you strengthen but you may need to decrease your running distance or speed.

So what were my take home messages following this course:

Seeing a women’s health physiotherapist is so important before you start any running. They will be able to advise you about your pelvic floor muscle and any strengthening and endurance work that you may need to do before you start running.  You may need to start with things like jumping, star jumping skipping before you return to running and if you do need to reduce your running or higher impact exercises it is not forever.

If you would like an assessment before you embark on your running programme, book in for a Mummy MOT with a licensed Women’s Health Physiotherapist. Or call 0208 394 0393 or book online at Bodyfix.

Lisa Few

Lisa Few author

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