So you are holding your new little bundle of joy, and after the first few weeks of sleepless nights and exhaustion are over, you start to think, “When can I get back to running? I feel FAT!” You are not alone! After having my first daughter, Alex, I started a marathon training program to lose the weight and find myself again. Running makes Moms more sane (better than Prozac, ha ha). Seriously, a mother who feels better has happier children (ask mine – they send me running when I’m cranky).
So when is it OK to run again? And how should you approach it? Most physicians will tell you that you need to wait at least 6 weeks before trying to resume vigorous exercise. Your body needs to heal. It is important to discuss this with your doctor and realize that with each subsequent pregnancy it may take longer. I couldn’t run effectively for 4 months after having my youngest daughter, Sasha, at the age of 40. Older Moms need more healing time. Talk to your doctor and listen to your body. If it hurts, wait a little longer.
It is fundamentally important to understand that new Moms experience several changes in their biomechanics due to post-partum gait changes. The greatest of these changes is a forward-tilting pelvis. This forward tilt of a typically stable area of the body can cause hip, lower back and leg pain due to compensation. Due to the strain of pregnancy and labor on the abdominal muscles, it is important to focus on strengthening them on your way to getting back to running. Multiple exercises that strengthen your abdominals can help: Squats, bridges, and planks are great examples. Couple this with shortening your stride and increasing your cadence to decrease impact. Some new Moms need pelvic floor exercises and even physical therapy to get back to normal; don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for a referral if you feel like you may need additional help getting those abs back to the new normal!
Important safety tips prior to walking outside to run!
You have to walk before you run. Start with walking briskly for 10 minutes. Then run slowly for 5 minutes; walk for a minute. Repeat. Then walk a ten minute warm down. You’ve been out of the house for 32 minutes. Time to go home.
The next day, walk for 10 minutes to warm up; run 5 min: walk 1 min; repeat twice, then walk 10 minutes to warm down. You should notice a pattern. As long as you are feeling fine, increase by one interval each day. Do not run more than 6 times a week and drink lots and lots of water!
Running after pregnancy can be your only ME time! It’s important to have that time for your sanity. Let’s get back at it, but slowly and listen to your body!