Pregnancy & Physical Therapy 101- Week 3

Based on these previously mentioned tips, here is first-hand experience from anew mommy, and her road back to running! Her story tells it all…

As a new Mom and runner, I was excited and anxious to get back to running. I knew I was in no physical shape to compete after giving birth to my son but I was anxious to use running as an outlet to have some “Mommy” time alone. I can vividly remember my first run. I knew it was not going to be pretty and only set my goal to complete two miles. Little did I know that that was a lofty goal! I made it half way and was ready for a walking “break.” Since my first run postpartum, I have gradually increased my mileage.

Here are some of her helpful tips that have helped her back out on the road (and treadmill)! You’re missing the road, the trail, the exhilaration and the freedom of going for a run. You’ve spent several months off from this activity due to your pregnancy and delivery. It’s time to return to running but where do you start?

  • First thing first, get your physician’s permission. Typically, you will follow up with your doctor 6-8 weeks postpartum. At this visit, ask your physician if it is okay to begin running again.
  • Start slow, run a short distance, and remember… it is okay to walk! Did you run or workout during your pregnancy? If you did, you may have a better base than someone who did not, but you should still take it slow as your body has gone through several changes. It only takes 48-hours of inactivity or decreased activity to start losing muscle so you most likely have lost muscle mass, strength, and cardiovascular endurance. Walking is ok! You can also do 1-minute on/off of run/walk. Cycle through 5-10 times based on how you are feeling.
  • Your body will feel different. While pregnant your body produced increased hormones: estrogen, progesterone, relaxin along with several others, which lead to ligament laxity. And if you breast feed you may continue to experience increased ligament laxity due to increased levels of progesterone. This laxity creates more mobility in the joints, especially in the pelvis, which may lead to pain in the lower back, glutes, pelvis, or pubic bones. Physical therapy can help you through these dysfunctions should they arise.
  • Once you begin running you may experience urinary incontinence or leaking. Do not be afraid to talk to your physician or physical therapist about this! While this is very common among new Moms it is not normal and can be addressed with exercise and/or physical therapy. Kegel exercises are a good place to start to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to address the incontinence (see last week for detailed instructions on how to do this).
  • Talk to your pediatrician about running with your little one in a jogging stroller. Generally, you are able to start jogging with your little one when they have good head control, which is anytime between 4-6 months. Try to stay on a smooth surface and minimize bumps as your baby’s head control is still developing.
  • Remember to hydrate! Hydration is very important, especially if you are breastfeeding your little one. Many jogging strollers have a place for you to put a water bottle or if you don’t carry one then plan your route so there is a water fountain available.
  • Last but not least, enjoy this time!