If you’ve been cleared by your doctor at your six week postpartum follow up appointment, that does not mean you should jump back into running. Some people may be very eager to get back into their normal fitness routine postpartum, and that’s great, but there are some specific steps you should take to help get you there first.
The recommendation for running postpartum is to wait 12 weeks. Crazy, right? It may sound crazy, but it makes sense. Waiting 12 weeks (and doing the proper prep work) will give you the best possible chance of recovery with no pelvic floor dysfunction. No matter how you delivered your baby, your pelvic floor went through a lot and needs a little rehab. That rehab needs to happen before you try impact exercises, like running.
Here are some things to practice (ideally from weeks 6-12) before you hit the pavement for a jog:
- Core and pelvic floor rehab exercises start with diaphragmatic breathing in multiple positions, then add in some gentle rehab exercises (work with a pelvic floor PT if you can!)
- Bilateral strength squats, deadlifts, calf raises
- Single leg strength exercises lunges, step ups, lateral lunges, single leg calf raises
- Low intensity impact exercises double leg hops, hands elevated plank hops, hands supported “running”
- Higher intensity impact exercises single leg lateral hops, jump squats, single leg hops
Work your way down the list mastering one thing at a time. Check in with yourself along the way – how does your core and pelvic floor feel? Any pain? Any leaking? Any pressure?
Once you feel ready to run, remember to take it slow! I highly recommend starting with a run/walk to help your body (pelvic floor) adapt and adjust to this form of activity. Taking it slow may seem painful, but it sets you up for the best chance to enjoy running for a long time without injury or setbacks.
I’m Colleen Wood, a prenatal and postpartum fitness trainer located in West Conshohocken, and I would love to coach you through your postpartum return to fitness.