I am a mum of a 5 month old little girl as well as a running coach, personal trainer and yoga teacher, specialising in pre and postnatal fitness. I am also the founder The BareVitality Studio, an online holistic fitness program. I personally can tell you the journey back to running takes patience and hard work. It is however such a rewarding and a humbling experience that really highlights gratitude for how capable and strong our bodies really are.
Every pregnancy, birth and recovery is different so unfortunately there is no magic formula for exactly when you will be ready to run and how long until you return to your pre pregnancy pace. You may have the running “itch” not long after your little one arrives or just as possibly it’s the last thing on your mind while juggling sleep deprivation and all that comes with the newest member of your family.
Its important to note that this guide can be followed at any point and not to feel pressure as to when you must start your journey back.
Only YOU can gage when you feel ready and this is going to look SO different to everyone and for every pregnancy.
Below however is a guide to get you back on track safely and running strong.
1) The 6 Week Mark:
Visit your GP and Postnatal Physio!
Have your GP check all stitches have healed. Have your physio check abdominal separation, pelvic floor strength and activation and risk of prolapse.
For the majority, the 6 week mark is going to be where you start building up strength, while allowing your body to continue to gently heal.
Your muscles have been stretched and weakened during pregnancy so this is the time to focus on your prescribed pelvic floor and deep core rehab exercises. As well as body resistance exercises such as bridge, 4 point kneeling leg and arm extensions, incline push ups on a wall or bench, calf raises and supported wall squats.
It is recommended to avoid any high impact activities at this point, including running. You can however start to build up your cardio by walking hills and stairs reps and introducing low intensity swimming and/or cycling if you feel up to it. Postnatal yoga, stretching and pilates are also a great addition to your recovery process.
It can feel disheartening and like you are starting from scratch and the reality is you are. Your body does however have that muscle memory and by allowing it the time and nurturing approach to recovery, you will be surprised at how well it responds.
Interestingly our feet can sometimes change size and have different paediatric needs postpartum so its worth a resize and chat in store to make sure your shoes can support you correctly.
2) The 10 Week Mark:
At this point you should start to feel more confident with your new movement routine. You may be able to increase the repetitions of your body resistance exercises and be enjoying longer walks with your baby.
Possibly you are noticing your not as out of breathe after your hill and stair reps.
More importantly than anything be consistent with your pelvic floor and abdominal exercises prescribed by your physio as your progress with these is what will allow you to safely return to running.
3) The 12 Week Mark:
A revisit to your physio if often recommended around this time, particularly if your feeling ready to start running to get the all clear and updated rehab exercises.
Start with just 2-3 minutes light jog, followed by 2-3 minutes walk. Repeat 3 times/ session. This can be done 2-3 times a week.
Make sure while you are running you focus on breathing deep into your diaphragm and only breath through your nose to correctly engage the pelvic floor. If you notice any leaking or other niggles, this is a clear sign your body is not quite ready and to pull it back.
It is recommended initially postpartum when possible to run first thing in the morning before a full meal and after you have been to the toilet to create minimum pressure.
Keep going with your movement routine to create a balance of strength, yoga/ stretching to complement your running and continued recovery.
From here it will be a case of slowly building up your running intervals and really listening to your body. It took 9 months for your body to adapt to support your babies growth and birth. Honour that 9 months of nurturing recovery and have fun enjoying your journey to rediscover your love of running all over again.
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