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When can I return to running after having a baby?

Running is a common and cost-effective form of exercise for mums as it can be done at any time and scheduled around your baby’s routine.

However, it can be hard to know when to start hitting the pavement again, as there have been so many big changes to the body. It’s important to not push yourself and not go too hard too early, but it’s also important to make sure that you’re slowly activating, strengthening, and getting back into the swing of things – for your mental health as much as your physical health.

For these reasons, many new mums ask our physiotherapists when they can return to running – whether it’s for a bit of “me time”, returning to feeling fit, or to help with mental health. Speaking to your physiotherapist is essential to ensure you’re making a safe and successful return to running.

Within this article, the experts at NQ Physio Solutions will outline when to get back into running and how to make sure it’s safe. Without further ado, here’s your guide to post-partum running. 

Considerations for post-partum running

There’s no doubt about it – there are so many benefits to getting back out there and going for a jog. However, there are some things you should be aware of before returning to running after you’ve had a baby.

We recommend booking in for a postnatal running assessment, where our women’s health physiotherapist will provide tailored advice to help you decide the best way to return to the exercise you love.

During this assessment and session, our physiotherapist will take into account:

  • The age of your baby (experts recommend waiting at least 3 months post birth)
  • Birth factors
  • Your pelvic floor function
  • Your core stability and strength
  • Lower limb biomechanics, strength and endurance
  • Sleep/ energy needs
  • Breastfeeding status
  • Pre-existing conditions and injuries
  • Your goals

A postnatal running assessment includes an assessment of your pelvic floor and musculoskeletal screening tests. We will discuss the factors listed above and provide individualised advice based on up-to-date evidence to help you decide what is best for you. You will often be given exercises to help build up your strength and stability for returning to running and we can also provide a graduated return to run program.

So, when can I return to running after having a baby?

Research suggests waiting at least 6-9 months before running with a buggy (due to protecting your baby’s head and spine) and running with a 2-handed technique is best. For your own recovery experts recommend waiting at least 3 months postpartum. However, it will really come down to your personal circumstances, such as birth experience, recovery, and overall health, and the conclusion we come to during your post-partum running assessment.

Will I injury myself if run too soon after giving birth? 

If you get back into running too soon and run too much, after pregnancy, you may become injured. Your body needs time to adapt and strengthen – which is why it is advised that you wait and seek medical guidance before going for a run.

Postpartum runners may also be at a higher risk of injury if they are:

  • Running within the first three months postpartum
  • Have pre-existing health conditions
  • Are breastfeeding (more on that below)
  • Have had a Caesarean-section
  • Have obesity or obesity-related health conditions 

Can I run if I am breastfeeding?

Yes – breastfeeding should not stop you from running. However, there are considerations to make when breastfeeding. It’s important to speak to your women’s health physiotherapist if you’re getting back into running, as they will be able to provide specific advice regarding breastfeeding. Considerations include: 

Running with a sports bra: Running is high impact – make sure you’ve got enough support for your breasts as they will likely be fuller, bigger, and more sensitive than pre-pregnancy.

Calorie and dietary  intake: Be sure that you’re getting enough calories and nutrients to support your milk supply when you’re running. Running will not reduce your milk supply, but it’s important you’re still maintaining adequate calorie intake and nutrition..

Pre-run feeds: Depending on your milk supply and your feeding schedule, it may be beneficial to get a pre-run feed in; this will make the run more comfortable.

How do I know if I am not ready to return to running? 

For some, it can take longer to get into their favourite activities after having a baby. Some signs that you’re not ready for this activity and you should stop running include: 

  • Urinary leakage
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pain, pressure, or heaviness in the perineal region
  • Joint or muscle pain

If you experience any of the above symptoms, get in touch with your physiotherapist and doctor before getting back into running.

Speak to your physio for more information on running postpartum

NQ Physio Solutions are Townsville’s leading physiotherapy clinic, providing expert women’s health and pelvic floor physiotherapy to prenatal and postnatal patients. The importance of a healthy routine after giving birth cannot be understated – but it’s also important that you’re getting back into running with the guidance of your physio and physician. Please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic for more information or book a postnatal assessment.

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