Ready to Run: How to Safely Return to Running Postpartum
So you’re six weeks postpartum. You just had your check up with your doctor and you’ve been cleared for exercise. “Just ease back into what you were doing,” you've been told.
You head home, lace up your old running shoes and get ready for your first run. I know you’ve probably been waiting for this day for a really long time. You’ve been craving that feeling of just getting out and pounding the pavement. I know that feeling. I know how amazing a long run feels. I know that grind, training for a race. That rush of crossing the finish line…there’s nothing like it, right? Physically, I know you could go out and run tomorrow. But should you? Here are a few things I like to talk about with my clients prior to the introduction of running into their programs:
1. Have you visited your local women’s health physio for an assessment? Have you had your abdominal separation assessed? For more info on abdominal separation, diastasis recti, and self assessment, you can start here!
2. Have you been experiencing any low back pain, incontinence, prolapse, internal or external pain during daily activities such as lifting your baby up and out of their bassinet or crib? These symptoms may indicate core and pelvic floor weakness, which is discussed here!
3. Are you breastfeeding?
4. Have you spent time reconnecting with and strengthening your core and pelvic floor after birth? Have you already incorporated strength based training into your routine for the past few months?
5. How are you sleeping?
As a personal trainer with a focus on women’s health and postpartum fitness, I am very cautious to recommend running in any of my client’s programs until first discussing these guidelines. In my experience, I wouldn’t recommend running until you are, at the very earliest, 4 months postpartum. For most clients a return to running around 6 months is optimal. Keep in mind that this is highly dependent on how your body is functioning and the foundation created early on by working first and foremost on your core and pelvic floor with specific strength training exercises.
For those mamas who are breastfeeding, it’s also super important to understand the hormones in play, many of which can definitely impact the recovery process postpartum. In conjunction, sleep and stress levels will also play a huge part in how your body recovers. In order to heal, your body needs rest. Often times lack of sleep can elevate stress levels, which in turn can produce hormones that may also effect your recovery.
So after reading this, some of you may be thinking that one, I’m crazy if I think you’re going to wait that long, and two, where the heck should you even start? So here are some things I highly recommend for you to do to create that baseline.
1. Start the retraining and strengthening of your core and pelvic floor now. Heal your diastasis recti if you have it (and most of us do to some degree postpartum).
2. Walk most days per week. Start off slow for no more than 15 minutes or so and gradually increase as you see fit.
3. Incorporate incline walking when you can. This will challenge your endurance, give you that boost of endorphins that all runners crave, and build glute strength.
4. Take your time. I know it seems like the road back to fitness after babies is a long one. But the truth is, it’s the right one. Don’t rush things just because you feel the pressure to.
From experience, I can honestly say that there is no way to out train the postpartum period. The 4th trimester and beyond is a time of much transition. As I said before, could you go out for a run and physically do it tomorrow? Absolutely. But should you? When I create programs for clients, I’m not just looking at 6 months from now. I’m looking at 5, 10, 15 years down the road. I want you to feel your best long term. I want your body to truly function. I want you to completely enjoy any activity you choose to do without the burden of injury. 15 years from now, I want you to still be chasing after goals, building strength, and feeling true confidence in all of your body’s amazing abilities. And with that, it takes time. Be patient mama. You’ve got this.
LMF Update: Many of you have been asking about the direction of LMF and what to expect for 2017. I’m so thankful for your patience. For the past few months, I have been working tirelessly on creating programs that will meet you wherever you are in your life and fitness journey with ease. New monthly training groups are coming back but in a brand new format. Training guides will be available for any season of life including a postpartum training guide! I couldn’t be more excited for where Lauren Mott Fitness is going and I cannot wait to share everything with you. If any of this interests you, I highly recommend joining my mailing list. First release as well as special pricing will only be offered to my subscribers. To join, click the link!
Thanks so much for reading! Want to talk further? Have a few questions? Let’s connect! Feel free to shoot me an email.