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Postpartum Return to Running...

Updated: Jun 8

When I went to my 6 week postpartum visit after my 3rd baby (now almost 2), I was shocked to say the least. My midwife did not ask if I was having incontinence, pain with sex, back or pelvic pain. Nada. I was a little shocked! Maybe this experience was an anomaly, but this is what patients tell me, too. They are pretty much given the green light to “do the things” like sex, exercise and lifting, but no guidance beyond that.


That is crazy. Nothing magical happens at 6 weeks to take you from “hold off” to “full steam ahead.” That is where I come in-- I am a physical therapist with advanced training in assessing and treating the pelvic floor and am board certified. I love helping “launch” women on a roadway to getting back to pain free life, sex and eventually impact exercise such as running. And, moms, whether you run a 6 minute mile or a 16 minute mile, you are a runner. Moms, you CAN get back to running without pain and without leaking. But, it will take some time and some patience.


When

Guidelines now say you should wait a minimum of 12 weeks post delivery to begin a return to running program. Your body just did a miraculous thing! Your abdominal muscles-- your transversus abdominus, obliques and rectus abdominus (6-pack muscles)-- were stretched around your baby for 40-ish weeks and need some time to return to normal length again. 66-100% of women have a diastasis rectus (widening of the abdominal muscles) in their 3rd trimester (Chiarelli) and this, too, takes time to heal. Your pelvic floor, whether you had a vaginal delivery or not, had your baby + uterus weight pressing down on it weakening it. If you had a vaginal delivery, those muscles and tissues stretched incredibly to birth your baby. If you had a cesarean, your skin, muscles and fascia were cut and need some help sliding and gliding and then getting your muscles back ‘on line.’ Ladies, we have been having babies for forever and yes, we are made to do this, but we are not made to resume recreational running at 6 weeks postpartum.




How

Once you have hit the 12 week mark, check yourself for a diastasis (video below). There should be less than 2 finger widths along the length of the midline of your belly. If it is wider, reach out to a women’s health physical therapist to get guidance on how to close it.


If

If you are 12+ weeks postpartum AND you can walk for 30 minutes without pain or leaking AND you can do exercises like squats and step downs with good strength and control, THEN you are ready for a return to running program. I also help my postpartum moms start a progressive core strengthening, hip strengthening running-specific strength training program.


Bottom Line

  • You are not “good to go” at 6 weeks postpartum

  • 8.5-10.3% of women still report pelvic girdle area pain 2 years after baby and 20% of women leak at 2 years postpartum… Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy helps with “launching” you towards your goals through restoring your mid-back mobility, helping your ribs restore normal positioning, helping your deep core muscles get back “online” and helping your pelvic floor regain strength and mobility.

  • Reach out at kelley@rvaholisticpt.com or 8044378606 for a free 15-minute consultation. I currently offer house calls, in clinic and telehealth for postpartum moms

  • Check out my 6 week postpartum return to running program. Let's face it: motherhood is a LOAD on women and sometimes, it is just nice to follow someone else's plan to "launch" you back into the thing you love, running! www.rvaholisticpt.com/online-programs



https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335928424_Returning_to_running_postnatal_-_guidelines_for_medical_health_and_fitness_professionals_managing_this_population


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