So Mama ? Do you want to return to running after pregnancy… give a fun run a go, or simply use running as a form of exercise. Running after birth is possible, however you do need a progressive strategy to ensure it happens safely and effectively – just like my gorgeous client Cath.
The 5 P’s for a PROGRESSIVE STRATEGY to return to running safely and effectively post birth
Don’t ever think that you will never get a chance return to more intense exercise. You will ! Pregnancy and birth have an enormous impact on your core and pelvic floor, and every woman has a different recovery timeline – just trust the process. Never feel you HAVE to do an exercise because “that is what you did before” or “that is what you SHOULD be doing” or “that is the only way you will get results from working out.”
It is important you get empowered and tune into when your body is ready to do so. Use these 5 P’S to check in and get important information from your body so you can return to running safely after pregnancy.
- PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION – give yourself permission to take imperfect action – start small and take consistent action. Mama, you may not currently have washboard abs..but that does not mean you should “do nothing !” Once you get medical clearance to exercise start by healing your core from the inside out, your pelvic floor is the foundation of your core so it needs to be given priority. These safe exercises should help. Also don’t give up if your baby start’s crying halfway through your workout. 5- 10 minutes a day of “imperfect action” is all you need to start to progress to your future goal of running.
- PAIN – if you have any pain in your body pay attention to it. As women, too often we give our children priority over our own bodies and “just push through it.” Instead use this pain as feedback from your body – stop and adjust your movements and if it continues see a medical practitioner. Pelvic pain and ankle sprains are common postpartum as the ligament softening hormone relaxin can remain in the body up to 12 months so be aware of this before you progress to more intense forms of exercise.
- PEEING – if you are leaking (or peeing) at any time in any amount when you do not intend to (or if you feel the urge to go very often and it is hard to hold on), this is feedback from your body that you are not ready for higher impact exercise like running. Please see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist and get fully assessed. Your core and pelvic health needs to be made a priority. You wouldn’t keep running on a sprained ankle would you ?
- PRESSURE – how does the pressure feel in your pelvic floor or perineum as you walk or run ? Do you feel any drag or bulging sensations ? This internal pressure is also something you should not ignore. Please get assessed Women’s Pelvic Health Physio – this will allow your body to function better for the long term.
- PEAK – as you move are you seeing any coning, doming or peaking of your abdominal wall (or as I like to call it ‘the toblerone”). This might happen if you are walking or running with a pram ? Tune into this and adjust your postural alignment, reduce the load of your pram or even better get assessed before you progress further with this form of exercise. Continual pressure on the midline of your core (linea alba) causing peaking can increase diastatis recti.
Listen. Stop & Adjust !
Take account of the above 5 steps before you ramp up your exercise intensity post birth or return to running after pregnancy. You need to be aware of each of these point to ensure better function and deeper trust in your “new body” – a body that will be post natal forever.
Please don’t panic if your body gives you any of the feedback above ! Simply stop, adjust and do something different – remember it is a progressive strategy (not a perfect one). Think about how you can you…reduce your reps, adjust your posture or change your pace. Also a full assessment by a Women’s Health Physio (at least 15 weeks postpartum) is going the help you understand and tune into your bodywisdom more effectively. I made a short video to also help you right here.
Mama of 3 – Marathon Runner
Meet Cath ! Who has not only been committed to her physical health, but also her mental health. To see Cath tackle anxiety and post natal depression as a Mum to 3 children and achieve her goal of returning to running safely after pregnancy has been incredibly inspiring !
Here is Cath’s personal account on returning to running post birth…
“After all three of my births, I had pelvic instability, lower back pain and upper back/neck and shoulder pain. Seeing a physiotherapist helped me through most of the pain. I also had mild Post Natal Depression and Anxiety after my first two kids, but after my third it was particularly bad. My son was a terrible sleeper and terrible feeder. No matter what we tried, nothing made a difference. I ended up being admitted to hospital for treatment of my anxiety and PND, and basically to get some much needed sleep. That was the most challenging year of my life. However despite it I continued to exercise and train with Dahlas- it definitely contributed to my recovery.
I started back running after my third child. I found it great for helping with my mental health, and a brilliant way to make new friends. I think I’ve run 6 half marathons since 2017, and one 31.6km event, plus numerous 10km and 5km events.
I badly injured my ankle while trail running in October 2017. It dashed my dreams of completing a long list of running events. However, slowly but surely and 10 months post injury, I was back running 10km events and then half marathons. So I set my eye on completing a full marathon for 2019 ! I’ve had plenty of niggles and minor injuries that have set me back slightly. But I refused to give up !
I run three times a week – two speed sessions with my running club and one long run on the weekend. It helps having the motivation and support from a wonderful group of runners that I now call friends. I rarely run alone these days!
On top of the running, I do resistance and strength training twice a week. I also make sure I have at least one to two rest days a week. My body thanks me for that ! I haven’t always trained at this intensity – it has been a long runway learning listen to my body and building up to a workout schedule that I can manage.
In May 2019, I ran my longest ever event…Runaway Noosa 31.6km. The following weekend I ran the Brisbane half marathon. And in July 2019, I ran my first ever full marathon at the Gold Coast. I am so lucky to have so much support from my family and friends to get me to that start line. I’m not sure what my next goal will be after the marathon but rest assured, I will not stop running. It gives me freedom, health, and happiness..what more could I ask for !”
Thanks Cath, your consistency and dedication (despite injuries and managing a family) is incredibly inspiring.
Are you wanting to return to more intense forms of exercise post birth ?
Grab my complimentary EXERCISE MODIFICATIONS DOWNLOAD you can add these moves to your pregnancy and postpartum workout routine. Also don’t forget to tune into my 5 key important points above so you can return to running safely after pregnancy.
Dahlas Fletcher is one of Australia’s most respected and successful certified and experienced Pregnancy and Female Fitness Trainers. Her goal is to help you be the happiest, most fabulous version of yourself, inside and out.