Many active women are anxious to return to running post baby. Doing it at the right time is crucial. If you do it too soon, you can cause injury or further pelvic floor dysfunction like pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, low back pain, incontinence, or prolapse.
Your Body Changes
There are a lot of changes that occur within the body from having a baby regardless of how you give birth. Muscles get weak and overstretched, the tissues and ligaments become lax and the pelvis and low back change shape essentially. In postpartum women running after baby, 36% have pelvic/hip pain and 20% have low back pain.
During pregnancy, the core and hip muscles "shut down" from being overstretched and need to be strengthened and retrained to activate at the appropriate times. There are mechanical changes in the spine and pelvis that lead to increased motion at these areas when running. Ultimately the excessive movement can lead to pain since there is a lack of stability in these areas. Some of the changes that occur with pregnancy such as an increased arch in the low back, remain past one year postpartum. So, don’t rush back to running. Your body needs proper time to recover. It’s important to keep in mind that these changes that occurred do not just spontaneously resolve. The best solution is to retrain the body in order to prevent pain in the future.
Ready to Run?
What can you do to get back to running post baby without injury? Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just strengthening the core muscles. Yes, they need strengthening most of the time, but even more so, they need to be retrained to increase neuromuscular control. It's best to work with a Physical Therapist on this since they can give you very specific and targeted exercises that focus on strength and neuromuscular control. If you want to return to running without injury or embarrassing pelvic floor issues, test your readiness by watching the video below. If you are able to do all four exercises with proper form and without pain, instability, leakage, or pelvic pressure then your postpartum body is ready to run.