4 Tips on Returning to Running Successfully

When it comes to returning to running postpartum, there is a lot of confusion out there on what to do and when to do it, how much to do and what not to do.Here are some tips to clear those things up.

When it comes to returning to running , there is a lot of confusion out there on what to do and when to do it, how much to do and what not to do.

Here are some tips to clear those things up.

What NOT to do:

Don’t do what I did after the birth of my second by starting with too much too soon. I ended up prolonging my overall recovery in the long run. I just wanted to be able to run and feel normal again, and so I pushed the mileage and the frequency…and I paid for it.

As a runner, I found it difficult, frustrating and upsetting reading posts in the running facebook groups I was in about moms who were returning even earlier than 6 weeks!!

And now, when I see those kinds of posts, I think:

No, just no.

Don’t head back before your body has healed and is ready. It’s not safe or sensible to head back to the road or trails too soon.

How to return to running  safely

My own return to running journey has made me super passionate about helping other moms. I want moms to return to running safely and in the BEST way possible.

Since the birth of my third baby, my recovery and return to running postpartum has been SO much better. I’m able to run more consistently a LOT sooner than I was with my son a few years ago.

I’ve done research and applied the principles and I can say for sure that following these 4 tips works!!

Don’t muddle your way through it and try to figure out what you need to do. Here’s your 4 step plan on returning to running. AND here’s how you can do it without injury, all while healing and strengthening your pelvic floor safely:

Number One: Build Your Aerobic Base

If you recently delivered your little one, start as soon as you’re ready after birth with easy walks. If your kids are months or years older, you'll still want to start building your aerobic fitness slowly and gradually with easy walks.

Build the intensity, frequency and duration as you’re able. Read more on how to build your aerobic base HERE.

Number 2: Incorporate strength training

Please, please, do NOT skip this part! You HAVE to make sure that all the muscles involved with running are strong enough to support you before you actually start running. Otherwise, you are at risk for injury AND either developing or worsening pelvic floor symptoms, like leaking, prolapse or pain.

Additionally, you need to strengthen your pelvic floor. Whether you just had your baby or it's been a while, your pelvic floor needs to be addressed. Your pelvic floor needs to be able to withstand the stresses of running.

There is a LOT of impact with each footfall when you run, and that get's translated up to your pelvic floor. So if you pee sometimes (or a lot of times) during the day with things like laughing or sneezing, imagine that x10 with running! You may actually worsen your stress incontinence frequency if you start running when your pelvic floor isn't ready.

Or, conversely, you may develop leaking if you haven't trained your pelvic floor up to where it needs to be for running!

Number 3: Prep before you run

If you just had your baby, you'll want to make sure that you're at least 12 weeks out from delivery, which ensures that your body is more healed from your pregnancy and delivery.

If you're getting back to running and your kids are older, you'll still want at least 12 weeks of strength and condition building (including core and pelvic floor work as well as runner-specific exercises) before you lace up. At this stage, it's less about physiologic healing time and more about pelvic floor strength, overall body strength, endurance and cardiovascular readiness.

Heading out the gate with something like only a couch to 5k plan is a recipe for injury or the start or the worsening of pelvic floor symptoms. You need to have a decent base and your pelvic floor needs to be on pointe before heading out there for a run!

After 12 weeks of prep, if you've healed and strengthened properly, you can begin a gradual return to run program.

If you recently delivered or still pregnant:

For moms who have recently delivered or are still pregnant and planning ahead: Early postpartum healing takes a lot longer than most realize!

When you go for your 6-week check up after giving birth, your body is hardly ready to resume regular activity.

The “all clear” at your 6 week follow up is actually old advice. Read more about why you should wait longer than 6 weeks here.

Most doctors are not familiar with proper rehab and recovery after having a baby. Sure, things might look or feel ok by their standards.

However, that doesn’t mean that your pelvic floor is healed enough to return to your prior level of function or other high impact activities like lifting weights, running or HIIT (high intensity interval training).

If you delivered vaginally, total healing time for the muscles, connective tissue, nerves, joints, etc. involved in the birthing process actually takes between 4 and 6 months.

If you delivered via cesarean, your abdominal tissues take 6-7 months to regain 73%-93% of it’s previous strength.

Point being, our bodies are still healing even when our little ones are already learning to sit up and crawl!

This is why it's not recommended to run prior to 12 weeks after having your baby.

Number 4: Have a professional check you out

To really make sure your body (and your pelvic floor!) is ready to withstand the forces and demands of running, get checked out by a professional.

A professional assessment will help determine whether your strength, your balance and your pelvic floor is ready to return to running safely. Not only that, but an assessment can show you where you might be substituting or compensating for weak areas and what specifically you can do to remedy it.

Get started with these exercises:

Start healing your pelvic floor and get ready to return to running with a comprehensive PDF guide of Postpartum Pelvic Floor Exercises. You can start doing these exercises as early as the day you give birth! Or start them later if it's been a while since you had your little one. They're perfect for ANY stage of motherhood. These exercises will help you:

  • heal from birth
  • close your abdominal separation
  • alleviate back & pelvic pain
  • strengthen your pelvic floor
  • rebuild core strength
  • improve leaking/incontinence
  • begin your journey to running

Get immediate access to the Postpartum Pelvic Floor Exercise PDF to begin restoring your core and pelvic floor strength today! Click HERE for your Guide.

Rachel holding her kids in front of her house

Get back to normal. Get back to running.

I help Moms at all stages of postpartum get back into running successfully to relieve pain, remove discomfort and enrich lives.

Learn more about me
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