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Return to Running Post-partum:  Where do I begin?

Running is a popular and efficient form of exercise that provides numerous physical and mental benefits. However, for individuals who have given birth, returning to running may seem like a daunting task.  Whether you have previous running experience or want to start running for the first time, an individualized approach should be taken to ensure a safe return to the trails.  Running has the reputation of being a high impact activity that has the potential to put excess strain and stress on our bodies, especially the pelvic floor.  While some of this holds true, people often don’t realize how resilient our pelvic floor muscles are. Running can still be a part of your health and wellness routine and Pelvic physiotherapy can help guide you with these simple steps.

Follow up with your birth care provider:

It is routine to book a follow up appointment at around 6 weeks postpartum and have your birth care provider complete an exam.  This is necessary to ensure your body and pelvic floor are recovering well and ready for the next step in your recovery.

Book a pelvic physio assessment:

Pregnancy can cause stress to the pelvic floor and it is important to note that all women, regardless if they had a vaginal delivery or c-section, should have a pelvic health assessment performed.   After gaining a history of your pregnancy, birth, and pelvic floor, the physio will discuss your running and exercise goals.  A detailed exam of your pelvic floor and abdomen will follow and will be used to evaluate any dysfunction including: muscle imbalances, scarring, pressure management issues, muscle tightness, tissue sensitivity, diastasis, and sometimes strength or coordination deficits.

Detailed running assessment:

Once your physio determines that your pelvic floor has regained the coordination, mobility, strength and endurance required to perform high impact exercise, it is necessary to complete a thorough running assessment.  This will involve watching you run and identifying any factors that may be putting undue strain on your body and pelvic floor.  An individualized plan will then be developed including specific exercises with parameters  to safely load your body to reach your running goals.

Useful Tips:

  • Monitor symptoms. Regardless of the stage of postpartum recovery, exercise of any kind should not provoke symptoms. Key symptoms to keep an eye out for are pain, breath holding, pelvic pressure or heaviness and bladder leaking. If you notice
  • Start small.  Your training program may begin with 30 seconds to 1 minute of slow paced running, followed by 1 minute of walking for around 10-20 minutes. This can be progressed as you stay symptom free.
  • Continue to perform your pelvic floor, core, and mobility exercises your physio has provided in order to build endurance and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Focus on proper form, breathing, and posture to reduce the risk of re-injury and improve running efficiency.
  • Pay attention and listen to your body.
  • If you experience any pain,  discomfort or recurrence of symptoms, stop running and speak to one of our pelvic health physiotherapy experts!

For more information on pelvic health, feel free to check out our expert services!

Guest contribution with thanks to our pelvic health team:

Lindsay James, Meaghan Clarke, Chelsey Hobson, and Jordan Stogryn

Disclaimer:  no information on this page is meant to replace or appear to provide care that is best provided by medical professionals.    


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