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7 Essential Tips for Postpartum Running: A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist's Expert Advice

As a pelvic floor and orthopedic physical therapist, I've had the privilege of helping many women navigate their postpartum journey, including the transition back to running. I've also gone through this transition myself. While running can be an amazing form of exercise for new moms, it's crucial to approach it with caution and care to prevent injury and promote optimal pelvic health. In this blog post, I'll share some essential tips and guidelines for safely returning to running postpartum.

postpartum running

Understanding the Pelvic Floor:

Before diving into running postpartum, it's essential to understand the role of the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles play a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs, controlling bladder and bowel function, and contributing to sexual function. During pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor undergoes significant changes, which can impact its function and integrity. When you're running, a lot of force and impact will travel through the pelvic floor.

Listen to Your Body:

The first and most important rule when returning to running postpartum is to listen to your body. Every woman's postpartum journey is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Pay attention to any signs of discomfort, pain, or pelvic floor dysfunction, such as urinary leakage or pelvic pressure, and adjust your running routine accordingly. You may need to back off on distance or time until these symptoms resolve.

Start Slowly:

It's tempting to jump back into your pre-pregnancy running routine, but it's essential to start slowly and gradually increase your mileage and intensity. Begin with short, gentle walks or light jogging sessions, focusing on proper form and alignment. As your body adjusts and your pelvic floor strength improves, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your runs. It's more important to go slowly, so much has changed through pregnancy and your delivery.

Pelvic Floor Exercises:

Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your postpartum routine is essential for promoting pelvic health and preventing issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Kegel exercises, in particular, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve their function. However, it's essential to perform these exercises correctly to avoid overactivation or tension in the pelvic floor. This is where getting evaluated by a pelvic floor physical therapist is vital!

Core Strengthening:

In addition to pelvic floor exercises, strengthening the core muscles is crucial for supporting the pelvis and spine during running. Focus on exercises that target the deep abdominal muscles, such as transverse abdominis and obliques, as well as the glutes and hip stabilizers. I recommend starting core strengthening AT LEAST 1 month before returning to running.

Proper Alignment and Form:

Maintaining proper alignment and form is key to preventing injury and optimizing running efficiency postpartum. Pay attention to your posture, engage your core muscles, and avoid excessive pelvic tilt or rotation while running. Work on landing softly to reduce excess impact through the pelvic floor. Consider working with a physical therapist to assess your running mechanics and make any necessary adjustments.

Stay Hydrated and Fuel Your Body:

Proper hydration and nutrition are essential for supporting your body's recovery and energy levels, especially when returning to running postpartum. Stay hydrated before, during, and after your runs, and fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods to support muscle repair and recovery. Especially if you are breastfeeding or pumping, you will need to replace lost calories.

Be Patient and Kind to Yourself:

Finally, remember that returning to running postpartum is a gradual process that requires patience and self-compassion. Celebrate your progress and accomplishments, no matter how small, and be gentle with yourself if setbacks occur. Listen to your body, honor its needs, and trust that with time and consistency, you'll safely regain your running fitness postpartum.

Returning to running postpartum can be a rewarding and empowering experience with the right approach and mindset. It can be a great way to enjoy exercise and be outdoors with your child. By listening to your body, starting slowly, incorporating pelvic floor exercises, maintaining proper alignment and form, and prioritizing self-care, you can safely and effectively navigate your postpartum running journey. Remember, your pelvic health matters for the long haul, so there is no rush.

If you want guidance either virtually or in-person to help you get back to running with reducing your chance of injuries or leaking, then contact me today for a free consult by emailing!

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