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POSTPARTUM RUNNING – 5 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY RETURN TO RUNNING

by Irina Stiasny, PT, DPT, PES

 1.Get clearance from MD

In the past, health care providers often instructed women to wait at least 6 weeks after giving birth to begin any exercises. The waiting game might be over depending on the type of delivery you had. If you had a normal vaginal delivery, it is generally safe to start exercising as soon as you are feeling ready. If you had a C-section or complicated delivery, always check with your MD prior to starting any exercise routine. 1,5

 2.Set a schedule and overcome barriers

Having a baby is amazing but stressful and exhausting at the same time. Setting a specific schedule for the morning or afternoon run can help you to feel more in control of your life and helps with holding yourself accountable as well. Hormonal changes that women go through postpartum can make you more emotional and might cause you to be more sedentary. Of course there are going to be days when you are too tired for a full workout, which is ok. However, it does not give you an excuse to do no physical activity. Instead, do what you can; small /short workouts are better than no workouts at all. Ask for support of family and friends when you need a break for a workout. Also, consider bringing baby for a jog or bring him/her to the floor during core workouts. An important thing to remember is that the first run or workout won’t be easy, but it can do wonders for your spirit and emotional well-being, as well as energize yourself for long days and nights taking care of your newborn.2,3

 3.Work with your current fitness level/go easy on yourself

It is very important to not push yourself when you are coming back to running after having a baby. It takes 9 months to carry a baby and it might take that long to return to “normal” running.Don’t expect your first run to be anything like your pre-pregnancy runs. You will be heavier, slower and clumsier than you were prior to your pregnancy, but the great news is that you are out there and it will get better over time. It is very important to eat healthily and often, especially if you are breast feeding. The focus of the first few months of the workouts /runs are feeling good and enjoying yourself. 5

A few guidelines to follow: 5

  • Take time to warm up and cool down
  • Begin slowly and increase your pace gradually
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid excessive fatigue
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain

 4.Get new shoes

Treat yourself to new shoes. Occasionally, due to hormones, feet get bigger during pregnancy and your old shoes won’t fit properly. Additionally, during pregnancy, your gait and running might change due to weakness, instability and laxity of ligaments due to hormonal changes in your body. Having proper running shoes will lower your risk of injuries. 6

 5.Register for a race

Pick a few races and put them on the calendar for your first year as a mom. It could be a 5K, 10 K or half marathon. Ask a friend to run with you, which helps you to be more accountable to your goals. 7

 

Irina Stiasny, PT, DPT is a new mom to a beautiful 1 year old baby boy.  She ran and worked out prior to and throughout her entire pregnancy. She has been an avid runner since 2005. She has run over 20 half-marathons and 4 full marathons. She has been practicing physical therapy since 2008 and coaching Monta Vista High School cross country/track and field since August 2012.

Bibliography:

  1. Brumitt, J. A Return to Running Program for the Post-Partum Client. A case report. Physiotherapy and Practice. (2009).vol.24. no 4.pp310-322
  2. http://www.acsm-mmse.org
  3. North American’s School for Fitness Educators Web site. http://www.infofit.ca/running -during-pregnancy-and-postpartum. Accessed December 3, 2014.
  4. Running Beyond Pregnancy: Postpartum Transition Web site.  http:// runnababez.worldpress.com/2013/09/19/running-beyond-pregnancy-postpartum-transition  Accessed December 3, 2014
  5. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayaoclinic.org/healthy-living/labor-and-delivery/in-depth exercise- after pregnancy. Accessed  December 3, 2014
  6. Running Peanut Web site. http:// www.runningpeanut.com. Accessed December 3, 2014
  7.  Competitor web site. http://running.competitor.com. Accessed  December 3, 2014
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