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Return to Running Postpartum

Return to Running Postpartum

Pregnancy is a beautiful yet daunting journey that oversees the arrival of a newborn baby. It may take a toll on the physical and mental health of pregnant women. During the pregnancy period, expectant mothers have to stop engaging in some activities they enjoy to protect their health and that of their unborn child. Female athletes must stop running and participating in other strenuous activities they used to perform before pregnancy to prevent injuries and other complications. However, after delivery, they are always eager to put on their running shoes again. How long should they wait before running again?

Postpartum refers to the period after a pregnant woman delivers a newborn child. The postpartum period begins immediately after childbirth and lasts for about six weeks. To ensure that expectant mothers can return to running and other exercise activities after delivery, they should undergo physiotherapy in Barrie to prepare their bodies. This article will explore the methods through which physiotherapy at Concept of Movement Physiotherapy can help women return to running in no time after the postpartum period.

What are the Changes Experienced During The Postpartum Period?

An expectant mother experiences several physiological and psychological changes to accommodate the growing baby during pregnancy. They undergo hormonal fluctuations, cardiovascular changes, and musculoskeletal changes. After delivery, the body undergoes new changes to repair the body and prepare it for child care. These changes may hinder you from immediately returning to running and other exercises. Common changes experienced during the postpartum period include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations: As the hormones fluctuate during pregnancy, they also fluctuate after delivery. During pregnancy, your progesterone and estrogen levels rise. These hormones develop the uterus and prepare it for delivery. Immediately after delivery, both of these hormones witness a drastic decrease as they are no longer needed. As your progesterone and estrogen levels decrease, your oxytocin levels increase to compensate for the loss of the other hormones. Oxytocin is a hormone that manages the reproductive system. It also influences behavior, such as social bonding and parenting. You should consider postpartum hormonal changes when contemplating a return to running because they can affect your energy level, joint stability, etc. 
  • Pelvic floor changes: The pelvic floor is a funnel-shaped structure that consists of muscles and connective tissues that support essential organs in the pelvis. It supports the bowel, bladder, uterus, and vagina in females. However, the pelvis undergoes several changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Over time, it stretches and weakens, leading to problems like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic therapy in Barrie is essential to regain strength and function in a complete postpartum recovery. 
  • Abdominal muscle separation: Disastis recti is the separation of the “six-pack abs” muscles of the abdomen. These muscles separate when they stretch due to pregnancy. However, the gap created during pregnancy can remain during the postpartum period. Diastasis recti can affect your core stability and hinder you from getting back to running after childbirth.
  • Ligament laxity: This term refers to hypermobile joints that are very flexible. Pregnant women may experience ligament laxity because of the continuous production of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy. Relaxin makes the joints and ligaments flexible enough to accommodate the growing baby. However, your relaxin levels may take about 12 months to return to their pre-pregnancy state. Therefore, your joints and ligaments may remain loose during the postpartum period. Ligament laxity puts you at risk of injury if you return to running immediately after childbirth. 

Lochia, incision drainage, breast discharge, breast engorgement, uterine contractions, incontinence, constipation, and several other problems may trouble women during their postpartum period.  These changes that pregnant women undergo during pregnancy may prevent them from returning to running immediately after their postpartum period.

What Does Postpartum Recovery Entail?

Knowing what your postpartum recovery entails can help determine at what stage it is safe to return to running and other exercises. The stages of postpartum recovery include:

Immediate Postpartum Stage

Postpartum recovery starts from the delivery room immediately after childbirth. The nurses will ensure that your vitals are optimal before discharging you. The earliest stage of postpartum recovery entails physical recovery, adjustments in hormones, and mother-to-child bonding. During this period, you should rest to relieve pain, promote healing, and prepare your body for athletic therapy in Barrie and other stages of postpartum recovery. 

Early Postpartum Stage

This period lasts for the first six weeks after delivery. Physical recovery is the main focus of this stage of postpartum recovery. The mother’s body starts to return to its pre-pregnancy state. It is during this stage that postpartum complications such as lochia (vaginal discharge) and uterine contractions occur. The mother will also start breastfeeding the newborn during this period. The mother requires regular postnatal checkups for general assessment and complaints. Simple postpartum exercises, such as walking, can be introduced at this stage to promote blood circulation and fitness in the mother. 

Mid-Postpartum Recovery Stage

This stage may last anywhere from six weeks to three months after childbirth. At this stage, you should adopt an active lifestyle compared to the idle recovery lifestyle of the previous stages. You may be allowed to start participating in physical activities that do not require a lot of physical strength. Examples of postpartum exercises you may participate in include pelvic strengthening and core-strengthening exercises and other low-impact exercises. At the mid-postpartum stage, some women may decide to follow stringent postpartum return to running guidelines to avoid injury and further complications.

Late Postpartum Stage

The late postpartum stage is the final stage of postpartum recovery, lasting anywhere from three months. New mothers should feel little to no pain, as the healing process should be almost complete at this stage. They should also be able to engage in activities that they used to perform before pregnancy. New mothers are ready to engage in high-impact exercises at the late postpartum stage. Therefore, they might have a conviction that it is time to return to running. However, one must still be careful in these tasking activities to prevent potential setbacks.

Return to Running Postpartum Guidelines

The first step before returning to running after your postpartum recovery period is to consult a pelvic health physiotherapist. A pelvic health physiotherapist at Barrie, ON, is a healthcare professional who treats and manages conditions related to the pelvic floor and its surrounding muscles. During a consultation, a pelvic health physiotherapist conducts a comprehensive assessment of the situation, noting all factors that may have contributed to pelvic problems. Based on the evaluation result, the pelvic health physiotherapist creates a tailored treatment plan to address the new mother’s concerns and ensure her return to running in no time. The following are steps that a pelvic health physiotherapist may take to prepare a new mother for return to running:

Pelvic Floor Strengthening

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs. Pregnancy and childbirth weaken and stretch the pelvic floor, leading to several problems for postpartum runners. Pelvic floor exercises address the weaknesses and imbalances of the pelvic floor, preparing new mothers for postpartum running. Examples of exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor include


You can perform this exercise by contracting and relaxing the muscles that form the pelvic floor. Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. It offers immense benefits to new mothers who want to return to running because it gives them better control over their bladders and bowels.

Bridges exercise 

The bridge is another effective exercise that helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Use the following steps to perform the bridge exercise for your pelvic floor:

  • Lay with your back to the ground and your knees elevated at 90 degrees. 
  • Ensure that your feet are parallel to the floor and your arms are outstretched, with the palms facing the floor.
  • Raise your hips and buttocks off the ground while squeezing the muscles in your stomach, glutes, pelvic floor, and hamstrings.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise as much as possible.

Other exercises that can strengthen the pelvic floor include pelvic floor drop, roll-in, roll-out, etc.

Core Strength Building

Pregnancy tests the strength of the core muscles. Therefore, it is essential to rebuild it because of its importance in postpartum running. Exercises that rebuild the core after pregnancy and delivery include pelvic tilts, bird dog, plank, leg raises, crunch, etc.

Other factors that help new mothers return to running during the postpartum period include adequate nutrition, hydration, and overall fitness. Pelvic health physiotherapists at Barrie will curate an adequate return to running postpartum plan to prevent the risk of injury and avoid complications.


Pregnancy, as beautiful as it is, is physically and emotionally demanding. Even after the delivery of the newborn, women have to deal with the aftereffects of pregnancy. The demands of pregnancy and delivery make it hard for new mothers to return to running immediately after their postpartum period. If you are considering returning to running and other exercise activities after delivery, you may need to undergo postpartum recovery at Concept of Movement Physiotherapy.