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5 Questions Before Returning to Running After Birth

We know the feeling, mamas – that pre-baby urge to lace up your sneakers and feel the wind in your hair is probably stronger than ever. You miss the freedom, the endorphin rush, the sense of accomplishment of a good run. But after the incredible journey of childbirth, returning to running postpartum requires a shift in mindset. It's not just about picking up where you left off.

Your body has just accomplished something remarkable – growing and birthing a tiny human! It's still recovering, adjusting, and figuring things out. Here at FIT4MOM, we understand that. We prioritize listening to your body and honoring its needs during this special time. While that pre-pregnancy routine might be calling your name, a smarter, safer way to get back to running sets you up for long-term success.

The good news? These five questions will help you navigate your return to running safely and effectively. They'll guide you towards a smooth transition that prioritizes your health and well-being while still allowing you to experience the joy of running again. So, ditch the pressure to jump straight back in, and let's get you back on the road the right way, Mama!

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1. How Is My Pelvic Floor?

Think of your pre-running routine as building a house. Even the most magnificent mansion starts with a strong foundation. The same goes for your postpartum running journey.

If you skip ahead to high-impact activities like running, you risk injury. Instead, start back to movement by focusing on building core stability and pelvic floor strength while reconnecting to your breath.

Your pelvic floor muscles support your body, especially after childbirth. Pelvic floor dysfunction, including pain, incontinence, or prolapse, can significantly impact your running ability. If you suspect any issues, consider consulting a pelvic floor specialist. Remember, a healthy pelvic floor is key to a safe return to running.

To reconnect to your breathing and pelvic floor, try this:

  • Place your hand on your belly button and the other on your rib cage. Now, inhale; you should feel both of your hands move outward.

  • As you exhale, visualize closing your pelvic floor like an elevator and pulling it upward toward your center.

  • Inhale again and imagine your elevator is lowering and the doors are opening at the bottom.

  • Continue to breathe like this while adding a core contraction while exhaling.

2. Do I have a strong foundation?

Once you've reconnected to your breath and begun strengthening your pelvic floor, it's time to gently nudge your body back towards running. Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or bodyweight training can be fantastic stepping stones. These activities can elevate your heart rate and build endurance without the jarring impact of running.

Focus on exercises that engage your core and leg muscles, mimicking the movements involved in running. Consider movements like squats, lunges, and hip bridges to help strengthen the foundation of your body to carry you forward.

Don't be afraid to start slow and gradually increase intensity and duration. Listen to your body – any lingering pain is a signal to ease back or modify the exercise. Remember, this is a journey, not a race. Incorporating these low-impact exercises will lay a strong foundation for a safe and enjoyable return to running.

Don't worry, Mama, FIT4MOM offers a variety of classes designed to help you rebuild your strength! Consider joining us at a Stroller Strides or Stroller Barre class. We will teach you all the movements you need to know to strengthen your entire body, while interacting with other moms just like you. It’s time to meet your Village. Join us for your first class free.

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3. Is Pain My Running Buddy?

Some discomfort is expected when returning to exercise after giving birth. It's like waking up after a long nap – your body might feel stiff or achy. But there's a big difference between "feeling it" and actual pain. Pain is your body's way of screaming, "Hey! Something's not right!" Here's why pain is a red flag when it comes to returning to running postpartum:

  • Risk of Injury: Running is a high-impact activity. If your body isn't fully healed and strengthened, pushing through pain can lead to severe injuries. Think stress fractures, pelvic floor dysfunction, or even worsening your diastasis recti (read more about that here). These can not only sideline you from running for longer, but also require additional medical attention.

  • Delayed Healing: Ignoring pain can slow down your recovery. When you're in pain, your body must focus on managing that discomfort instead of healing properly. This can prolong the time it takes for your muscles, ligaments, and joints to regain their pre-pregnancy strength and stability.

  • Pelvic Floor Issues: Pregnancy and childbirth put a tremendous strain on your pelvic floor, the group of muscles that support your bladder, uterus, and bowels. Running is definitely off the table if you experience pain, leaking, bleeding or discomfort in your pelvic region during gentle workouts. Pushing through it can worsen these issues and lead to long-term problems.

  • Frustration and Discouragement: Let's be honest; battling pain while trying to exercise is no fun. It can be frustrating and demotivating. By listening to your body and waiting until you're truly ready, you'll set yourself up for a more positive and successful return to running.

Remember, there's no competition here. It's not about who gets back to running the fastest. It's about prioritizing your health and well-being so you can enjoy a long and sustainable running journey in the future. Take your time, listen to your body, and address any pain with your doctor. Plenty of other ways to stay active and feel good while your body recovers!

4. When was the last time I slept a full night?

Childbirth is a physically demanding process. It takes time for your body to heal and your energy levels to return to normal. This, coupled with the constant demands of a newborn, can leave you feeling depleted. Listen to your body's needs. If your energy levels are low, prioritize rest.

Running can wait. Remember, your body is still recovering from the incredible feat of childbirth. By prioritizing rest and recovery, you'll have more energy and patience to care for your baby. A well-rested parent is more attentive and responsive, creating a positive experience for you and your little one.

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5. Will I continue to breastfeed while running?

Breastfeeding mamas, you can absolutely run! However, keep in mind your unique needs. Invest in a supportive and comfortable sports bra. Plan your runs around feeding and pumping schedules to avoid discomfort for both you and your little one. To learn more about breastfeeding while running, read our blog “5 Myths about Breastfeeding and Exercise.

Remember, Mama, you're amazing! Be patient with yourself, celebrate the small victories, and enjoy the journey back to running. We're here to support you every step of the way.

If you are ready to start running, but unsure of how to start, consider our Run Club+ program, our 8-week guided training program for 5K, 10K, or half marathon distance runs. We provide opportunities to learn and improve your running techniques through our detailed training plans, coaching, and community support. Come run with us, Mama!


Check out these blogs to continue learning about running as a woman, a mother, and more!

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