Starting running too soon can wreak havoc on your pelvic floor, PF. Its primary job is to keep that baby in and then afterwards to keep your insides… well… in. Think of it as a hammock that holds your bladder and reproductive organs in and attaches to the front and back of your pelvis. These muscles work all day long. 24/7. They work in conjunction with the TA to stabilize the core. Any insufficiencies in these muscles can cause pain, incontinence and altered movement. A study by Poświata in 2014, found that 45.54% of the 112 elite female endurance athletes (runners and cross-country skiers) polled, suffered from incontinence. It is so common ladies! You are not alone!
You never want to subtract to add i.e. don’t put your pelvic floor at risk to start adding miles. If you have good core strength and stabilization you can progress through the following recommendation more rapidly, otherwise spend 2-3 weeks at each stage. Make sure you properly warm up (walking) and cool (walking and stretching). FInd more information about running, your pelvic floor and core in our free Ab Rehab Guide.
Once postnatal…you are always postnatal. So this applies to every mama!
Start super slow, and not before two months postpartum UNLESS you have been super consistent with activating your TA and PF. If you are a hard core runner you have a little more grace in that you can start running 6 weeks post a vaginal delivery (given your doctor agrees).
Timed I: aim for 20 minutes of run 1 minute/walk 1 minute, repeat
Timed II: aim for 20 minutes of run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute, repeat
Timed III: aim for 20 minutes of run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute, repeat
Mileage I: aim for 2-3 miles of run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute, repeat
Mileage II: aim for running 1 mile, walk 2-3 minutes, aim for running 1-2 more miles
Mileage III: aim for running 2 miles, walk 2-3 minutes, aim for running 1-2 more miles
Incorporate daily Pelvic Floor (PF) exercises. As always, it’s important to incorporate strength and flexibility into any running routine. If you are 5-6+ months postpartum, I recommend our Running Supplemental Workouts. Because running happens in one plane of motion, so it’s a must that you strengthen your core and all the muscles that move in the lateral direction i.e. gluteus medius. This will keep your body healthy!
Pelvic Floor Exercises:
If you have an abdominial separation – diastasis recti – we have a handful of guidelines you need to follow. Check out Running with Diastasis Recti. If you do not know whether or not you have diastasis recti please check out: https://www.momsintofitness.com/what-is-diastasis-recti/.
Duvall, S. Can I Run with a Diastasis? Retrieved from https://www.coreexercisesolutions.com/can-i-run-with-a-diastasis/
Lee, D. Diastasis rectus abdominis & postpartum health consideration for exercise training. Retrieved from https://dianelee.ca/articles/Diastasis-rectus-abd.pdf
Nixon, J., Goom, T. Running, incontinence and pelvic floor exercises. https://www.running-physio.com/pelvic-floor/
Poswiata, A., Socha, T., Opara, J.(2014). Prevalence of Stress Urinary Incontinence in Elite Female Endurance Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics, 44, 91-96.