Updated: Jan 14, 2019
Mums On The Runs USA is excited and honored to announce we have teamed up with women's health guru Shereen Sairafi PT, DPT, WCS. Shereen is a pelvic health physical therapist and Women's Health Clinical Specialist who lives and works in Denver, CO. She is an expert in everything pelvic health related including orthopedics, and is also an avid runner and marathoner!
Shereen has kindly agreed to share her expertise about returning to run postpartum, including her favorite exercises and how to do them!!
Returning to run postpartum
As a pelvic health physical therapist I see many patients in the early postpartum period and once they are cleared for exercise at their 6 week postpartum appointment they are ready to hit the road and resume the activities they missed while pregnant. I’d like to share the advice that I give my patients to help each of them have the best outcomes as they return to run.
Six weeks might be too early…
I know that can be hard to hear, I’ve worked with enough runners and triathletes to know
that this is not what you want to hear postpartum. However, something to consider is that the 6 week clearance for exercise is based on tissue healing of the your abdominal wall after a cesarean delivery or the vaginal tissues and pelvic floor muscles after a vaginal delivery. Unlike orthopedic injuries there is no return to sport testing or careful thought as to individualizing a patient’s plan for return to activity after having a baby.
As a result I think returning to run too early can lead to disappointment and frustration in both performance and in feeling like yourself again.
Your body has ongoing hormonal changes while you are newly postpartum and while
you are still breast feeding. This can impact feelings of pressure in the pelvis while running as well as increased laxity in your joints. It is also important to remember that it took your body 40 weeks to grow your beautiful babe and it can take just as long afterward to feel like yourself. As a result, I usually recommend my patients return to running no sooner than 12 weeks postpartum and that they keep a close monitor on any symptoms they experience. I also educate patients that it will likely take 6 months until you feel like yourself again on runs.
Signs you may have returned to running too early:
It feels like there is something bulging and/or falling out of the vagina
This may be a pelvic organ prolapse and is something that you should mention to your midwife or OB/GYN. A pelvic organ prolapse is not harmful but the symptoms can be uncomfortable and limiting to every day activities. Luckily though, many prolapses respond well to pelvic health physical therapy intervention.
Urinary incontinence in pregnancy is the biggest indicator that you might leak postpartum.
Leaking urine or stool while running is a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction and is something that can be addressed with physical therapy.
That low back/ pubic symphysis/ hip/ pelvic pain you had in pregnancy has returned.