We all know that for some women, the period after giving birth can be a difficult one. As you adjust to the baby, its schedule, and all the new parent duties you now have, you might come to the conclusion that you need to have at least one hour per day to clear your mind and relax. And what better way to do it than with a running session that will not only help you feel better but also kickstart a journey to being stronger and healthier?
With that said, we all know that you cannot work immediately after giving birth – regardless of whether you want to go for a run, to the gym, or to a pilates class. But how long should you wait before you hit the track, and what does the timeframe depend on?
Let’s take a look.
How Long Before You Can Go Back to Running
The body needs to heal after giving birth before it’s okay for it to come back to exercising. Typically, doctors will give you anywhere between six to twelve weeks if you give typical vaginal birth. If you want to be on the safe side, it’s advised to wait for twelve or more weeks before slowly returning to more intense training sessions, such as running after pregnancy or weight lifting.
By waiting and giving your body time to recover, you reduce the risk of many serious health conditions, including muscle tears, urinary incontinence, hernias, falls, and even pelvic organ prolapse – a condition that causes the bladder and uterus to droop into the vagina. What’s crucial for you to remember is that this 12-week milestone only applies to women who’ve given birth in what’s considered to be a normal vaginal delivery. However, if that is not the case for you, your doctor might suggest you wait longer, depending on whether you’ve had:
- Excessive scar tissue in the pelvic area
- Perineal tearing
- A cesarean section (C-section)
- Postpartum depression
That’s why it’s vital to have a discussion with your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise plans or routines. It’s better to be safe and to take precautions than just to begin and face potential issues later. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just sit in one place and fear any kind of movement. In fact, if you remain sedentary, it will make your return to your previous routine even harder. For most new moms, walking up to 30 minutes at a comfortable pace is recommended a few days after giving birth. But you still need to listen to your body and avoid going overboard.
Yoga is also a good way to begin incorporating some movement in the immediate weeks postpartum. Still, you should avoid classes like hot yoga, which tends to be a lot more challenging.
How Do I Know I’m Ready to Start Running Again
After about 12 weeks, you can start testing yourself to see if you’re ready to take on a few miles. This test should include:
- One minute of in-place jogging
- Balance on one leg for 10 seconds (switch sides)
- Hop on one leg 10 times
- Do 20 calf raises, bridges, and squats
- Do some light ab exercises
If you’re comfortable with all those movements, then your body is ready to go on a run. With that said, as you’re coming back from months without rigorous exercise, we’d recommend you start slow and steady – it’s a good idea to get a plan for training sessions designed specifically to get you back into running after pregnancy. Typically, most people start with around three sessions a week that shouldn’t last longer than twenty minutes. If you’re finding it hard to run non-stop for that long, you may try intervals, where you run for 1-2 minutes, then walk for 3-4 – that way; you will allow your body to slowly return to form and regain it’s ability to last longer distances.
In most cases, after several weeks, you should be able to run these twenty minutes comfortably, and you can start slowly adding more – making your sessions last about half an hour. In this initial period, it’s crucial that you pay attention to the signs your body is giving you. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or, let alone, any kind of pain, then you should reevaluate your plan and consult with your doctor.
12 weeks is the determined period that you should wait out before starting to run again. And that’s considering your pregnancy and delivery went well without complications. Having said that, our advice will always be to talk to your doctor before attempting any vigorous exercise – after all, everybody is different, and it’s best to follow the advice of health professionals who know yours and can give proper recommendations.