After having my son this summer I couldn’t wait to get back running! Everyone told me not to rush back (they know patience isn’t my strong point!) but this time I was different – even when I felt like running again, I was scared to! In discussions with other fit Mums I realised this question comes up time and time again. When is it OK to run again after giving birth? Having no set answer comes from the fact that everyone is different. Every woman is different, every birth story is different, every recovery process and healing experience is different. We all know the woman who bounced back, and we all know that not everyone does!
There’s no getting away from the strains that pregnancy has on your body! From urinary incontinence in their pregnancy to pelvic organ prolapse after giving birth your body can feel pretty battered! Even when the GP clears you at your 8 week post-natal check to start exercising again – does that mean running?
Running is a wonderful feeling. All you need is you and your trainers. You can switch off, destress, enjoy your surroundings. But there’s no getting away from the fact that running is a high impact sport which puts pressure on your lower limbs, pelvic floor and connective tissues and muscles of the abdominal wall. You’ve also been gaining weight for the last 9 months, endured postural change, hormonal change and that’s before the delivery of the baby which can cause further stresses, strains, tears and stitches.
Now, I am certainly not advocating doing nothing, but surprisingly I’m not all for pounding the pavement straight away either. Walking has been my happy medium; my saviour! A 45 minute walk is the same as a 15 minute run (well, similar!). It’s time spent on your feet, time moving in the right direction and time for your body to get used to exactly that…your new body! So before lacing my trainers up to run, I’ve been going out for 90minute to 2 hour walks.
The healing process takes time. It takes 6-12 weeks for soft tissue recovery, then a minimum of 12 weeks to build strength back into the muscle. Rather than being overly eager to ge those miles in it’s worth spending time building up the foundation blocks again – find a post-natal pilates or yoga course; work on your core and stability; regain control of your body, balance and coordination. Yes, you’ll run again, but make sure you have the foundations in place to avoid further injury. From someone who likes to rush literally everything, even I know the importance of taking your time. You’ll be back!