When can I return to running or high impact activity after I’ve had a baby?
This is most common question asked by women I see while pregnant and also after having their baby. There is a lot of focus about returning to exercise post baby. Women want to return for many reasons; enjoyment, health and fitness and also mental health.
Recently there has been some guidelines put together by some amazing physiotherapists (Tom Goome, Grainne Donnelly and Emma Brockwell) to help give us some clear objective measures of when this is safe to return to running.
Before returning to running or high impact exercise we need to consider what we are asking the body to do when completing these tasks.
Running can produce ground reaction forces of 1.5-2.5 times your body weight. It is not known how much of these are absorbed transferring through your leg. However we can assume a large proportion if not all of these force are also transferred to the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor must be able to support the pelvic organs and continence during these activities. To achieve this the pelvic floor must have good strength and speed of contraction.
Ideally all women no matter what form of delivery they have had should have a through assessment performed by a women’s health Physio to check pelvic and and abdominals. This should be done around 6-8 weeks post partum. This will give you guidance in your return to exercise. There is good evidence to show that individual post natal assessment and guided pelvic floor rehab prevent and manage pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and sexual function.
Returning to running can start around the 3-6 months, this allows time for the body to recovery and to build some strength and control in the pelvic floor.
Before returning to high impact exercise you should not be experiencing any of the following:
Urinary or faecal incontinence, heaviness in the Pelvis, gap in the abdomen, pelvic or lumbar spine pain.
If you are experiencing this you need to be assessed by a women’s health Physio or if these develop after returning to running or high impact activity.