Getting Back into Running after Baby
So you have just had a baby or your baby is 1, 2 or even 3 years old and you are ready to get back into your running routine. There is no doubt that having a child can change your body and there a few things you need to consider when starting up your running routine.
Running is an impact exercise and so you want to start slow even if you were a runner before pregnancy.
If you have just given birth you may consider starting first with a walking program that is 15-20 minutes in length. Interestingly, pushing your child in a stroller can increase your effort, giving you a comparable workout to running.
When you are ready to start running you can start a walk/run program where initially you spend the majority of time walking and slowly progress towards more running each week. Ensuring plenty of time for rest is also important, so aim to start 1-3 days of running with at least 1 rest day in between.
Don’t Forget Strength Training
Your abdominal muscles may not have regained full strength even one year after pregnancy so it is important to start working on your core muscles. Traditional sit up type exercises are generally not recommended after pregnancy as many women will develop what is called a rectus diastasis and traditional sit ups can make this potentially worse. Exercises you can start early include learning how to tighten your belly below your belly button without holding your breath. While this may seem like a basic exercise, it targets your deep abdominal muscles that are important to running especially following pregnancy.
Another exercise that is great to start and can be fun to integrate with your baby is called bridging; lie on your back with your knees bent, lift up your hips, hold this and then lower back down. Starting with these basic exercises can help get your core muscles working again and ease your return back to running.
What About Breastfeeding
You can run and be a breastfeeding mom. Consider getting a supportive and compressive type sports bra, this will help support the extra weight of your breasts and improve your comfort while you run.
Prior to running, either pump excess milk or breastfeed your child to reduce the weight of the breasts. When you exercise your body produces lactic acid and this can get into your breast milk, some babies may be fussy if you feed right after you have exercised so pumping or feeding before running can help alleviate this.
Also make sure you are drinking lots of water before and after your run.
What if You Get Injured or Have Problems
At UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Runners Clinic has developed a special program has been developed called the Active Mom's Clinic. This program helps women get back into their exercise routines following pregnancy. The Active Mom's Clinic takes into consideration how pregnancy impacts a woman's body in order to get moms back on track with exercise and running.
During an Active Mom's Clinic visit a physical therapist do a video analysis of your running gait, a dynamic ultrasound imaging test of your core muscles, and a physical examination of your strength, flexibility and posture. The video analysis gives the physical therapist insight to develop recommendations regarding your running habits, how you run and footwear. The ultrasound imaging is a high level tool to determine how your pregnancy may have altered how your abdominal muscles function. This may be used to provide you visual feedback or design an exercise program for you to do at home. The goal of the clinic is to get you on the road to recovery so that you can continue to enjoy an active lifestyle after having children.