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When can I start running after having a baby??

I have had many patents ask me this question, and I can relate! After the birth of my son I was counting down to my 6 week post-partum check-up as exercise has always been my stress reliever and running has become one of my favorite forms of exercise! After much anticipation, my appointment finally came around and I was told I was clear! Yay! But now what?!

I find many of my patients who are post-partum have been frustrated by the lack of guidance for how to return to running. This is likely because there are currently NO international guidelines that standardize how a postpartum woman should return to running. There is, however, research which offers guidance for how and when to return to running after baby! Today we will talk about the WHEN!

Running is a high impact activity which creates a sudden rise of pressure inside your abdominal cavity. This pressure puts stress on your pelvic floor- an area which is weak and often injured during pregnancy and delivery. It takes about 4-6 months post-partum for maximal recovery of the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue following a vaginal delivery. Following a c-section, the abdominal fascia has only recovered 51%-59% of its strength at 6 weeks, and 73%-93% of its strength after 6-7 months. Knowing this, it is a little crazy that most women are told at 6 weeks they can return to exercise without being given any guidance as to how!

Your body needs time to heal. Therefore, it is generally recommended that when returning to exercise you start with low impact exercises the first 3 months post-partum. It took 40 weeks to grow that beautiful baby…be kind to your body and give her a chance to reach maximal potential! Generally, you should be able to return to running between 3-6 months post-partum, if you do not experience any symptoms.

But how do you know if you can start running after 3 months?

If you experience any of the following symptoms prior to, during, or after attempting running…this is a sign you body is not yet ready to return to running:

  • Sensation of pelvic pressure/heaviness
  • Urinary leakage
  • Inability to control bowel movements
  • Gap or separation along the midline of your abdomen
  • Pelvic or low back pain
  • Ongoing or increased blood loss after 8 weeks post-partum (not associated with your cycle)

The good news? If you DO experience any of these symptoms, THERE IS HELP! The team at Breakaway Physical Therapy is trained to assess and treat women post-partum, including addressing pelvic floor dysfunction. We will be happy to talk with you during a FREE Breakthrough visit to learn about your concerns and to help you get back to the exercise and activities you enjoy!

Looking for some more guidance, download our free report on 9 Effective Strategies to Understand and Relieve Daily Pelvic Floor Dysfunction from our website!

Make sure you give your body just as much time and attention as that cute, little, cuddly baby of yours😊


Stephanie McKay

Stephanie McKay

Stephanie graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore in 2011 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. During PT school, I completed a clinical internship in Women’s Health/Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy which gave me valuable clinical experience and opened my eyes to this much needed and often overlooked area of physical therapy. There are so many conditions/symptoms such as pelvic pain and incontinence which are mistaken for being normal just because they may be common in society, chronic, or attributed to pregnancy/childbirth, however this is not the case at all! I love that I can help my patients return to activities that they enjoy without symptoms. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, as well as exercising and being outside. I am excited to join Breakaway and to be a part of a team where there is focus on patient-centered care. I love to spend one-on-one time with my patients to ensure I am meeting their personal goals and to be able to give my patients the tools that they need so that they can maintain their progress even after discharge from PT.
Stephanie McKay

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