Return To Running Postpartum Protocol

I was determined to run during my first pregnancy and did so until about 30 weeks (I would not do that again by the way).

I couldn't believe it when the return to running postpartum guidelines suggested I wait at least three months postpartum to run again!

That was almost 22 weeks of not running, almost half a year!

Prior to pregnancy, one week without running felt like an atrocity.

I would tell myself I needed to run to "stay sane." But the truth is I wanted to run because it felt like a productive way to punish myself for eating certain foods or for getting "fat."

Many of my clients who start running too early postpartum are shoved out the door by these types of thoughts.

But are these reasons enough to exacerbate or even cause issues like urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and prolapse?

Check your reasons mama!

Your body is probably not ready to run at 6 weeks, which is when many women start running again.

The truth is, your uterus hasn't returned to it's original size until about three months.

Think of it like this, it took you nine months to get to full-term. Then, in over a few hours (or days), you are suddenly no longer pregnant.

That is an incredibly rapid change! This, in addition to any soft tissue injuries or surgeries that may have occurred, requires a long, gentle and loving recovery.

Three months to recover from nine months of pregnancy is not long in the grand scheme.

Here's a healthy return-to-running postpartum timeline. In the early postpartum period, any increase in lochia is a sign your are doing too much.

Weeks 1-4

  • Gentle breathing to activate pelvic floor and abdominal wall if no tearing during birth

  • If c-section, only activate pelvic floor

  • Hip and shoulder opening

  • Short walking distances (1/4 mile or less)

Weeks 5-8

  • Gradually progress core work to breathing exercises lying on your back

  • Heel slides

  • Fall outs

  • Marching

  • Hip stretching

  • Gentle hip strengthening

  • Clamshells

  • Bridges

  • Progress walking distances slowly

  • Begin non weight-bearing cardio

  • Cycling

  • Elliptical

Weeks 9-12

  • Progress core and hip exercises

  • Introduce high-impact

  • Jogging in place x 1 min

  • Squat jumps

  • Begin running short distances if symptom-free

I start this rehab process with my clients as soon as they are ready, even as soon as 24 hours if they need help activating their core, carrying baby and transferring in and out of bed.

I strongly recommend returning to running under the guidance of a pelvic floor physical therapist!

Ready to get started? Book your free consult with me here!

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