How To Avoid Injuries As A New Runner Mom ~
Runner gals who become new moms face hidden challenges integrating their two roles after their little munchkin comes along.
The benefits of going back to running after having a baby are obvious: Besides giving you the alone time you need to clear your head, relax and get your body stronger, women who breastfeed while running also have a significantly lower incidence of postpartum depression.
Running after having a baby, however, is not without its risks. In order for runner moms to transition safely back into running, here are 6 insider tips from marathoner and triathlete moms:
(1) Don’t start running too soon for your body.
Pelvic floor therapists will tell you to wait a full 6-8 weeks before running since your body is rapidly recovering, shrinking back into place and changing. Other runners, however, have been okay returning sooner.
The key is to pay attention to how your body feels and what it really wants to do. It will tell you if it needs more rest.
Some general guidelines for those that feel up to running sooner: If you had a fairly easy vaginal delivery, try walking the first days or weeks until you naturally feel like jogging again. If you had a tough vaginal delivery or a cesarean delivery, wait until the pain and swelling are down, and any incisions are healing well. Then gradually walk, jog and ease back into it only after 3 weeks of rest.
(2) “Leaking is common, but it isn’t normal.”
If you’re accidentally peeing when you run postpartum, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you leak when you cough, sneeze, jump or run, it’s a good idea to see a pelvic health physical therapist. There’s no need to suffer from this, since this is exactly what they help you to eliminate. A good pelvic health PT will tell you exactly where the problem is in your musculoskeletal system and help you fix it, so you can fully return to running.
“Your therapist will be able to assess how your muscles are functioning and can guide you on how to return to exercise safely. The pelvic floor is the “floor of your core.” By keeping this muscle strong and functioning well, it will help you stay injury free. If it is not working then it will set you up for issues later on,” says Dr. Kate Edwards of HappiestDoulas.com.
If you choose not to see a pelvic floor PT, do your Kegel exercises, empty your bladder before running and wear a super pad. If it doesn’t resolve after 3 months, it’s best to see a pelvic floor therapist.
(3) Get plenty of calcium, since breastfeeding creates a higher risk for stress fractures.
Because your body is busy making dinner for another human being, it will choose to make milk over maintaining your bone health. So make sure you’re getting enough calories of the right food and not running too much too soon. If you feel severe pain anywhere, stop and have it checked out.
“It is far worse to get a stress fracture and not be able to run than it is to ease into running and stay healthy. Believe me you do not want to be in a walking boot trying to chase a toddler or carrying a baby in a car seat.”
(4) Don’t expect pre-pregnancy running results anytime soon.
You’re heavier, your breasts hurt, you’re uncomfortable. You may need two sports bras. This is the trade-off for the amazing thing your body just did. Run on softer surfaces for a while. Be patient. As Dr. Kate says:
“I have completed several triathlons, 14 marathons including 3 Boston marathons under my belt. When I started running again I was so excited and defeated all at once. I was running again, yet I ran 4:00 minutes/mile slower than usual, for a long time. Almost a year later, and still breastfeeding, my feet are beginning to move quickly again. It is okay to pace yourself, go slow and work your way back to your pre-pregnancy PR. Enjoy the time you have to exercise and all the benefit it brings; the speed will come.”
(5) Maintain good running form while pushing a stroller.
Once you’ve got baby on board, be sure to pay attention to “stroller form.” This can be hard to do, but good stroller form will keep you injury free, so keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t lean forward from the hips when pushing the stroller in front of you, especially going uphill.
- Keep your rib cage stacked over your pelvis and breathe from the belly for optimal stability.
- If you are pushing the stroller with two hands, hold onto the handle on the outside edge in order to keep you thumbs towards the sky and elbows towards the ground.
- If you are pushing with one arm and swinging the other arm, be sure to switch which arm you are pushing with periodically.
(6) Allow the separation from your little one.
At first you might feel guilty and only run when she’s asleep. But know that the time apart is good for you both. Eventually you might start running when she’s awake, if that’s convenient. It will become a regular part of her life to see you go and come back, and it’s a good thing for her to get used to as she grows.
(Many thanks to happiestdoulas.com for input from their original article.)