Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Everybody wants to run like Forest Gump! Well even if you don’t want to run like forest gump it is awesome to be able to not run because YOU choose not to rather than it doesn’t feel right or you are worried about leaking, falling apart, injury etc etc.
First things first I am to the nth degree pro movement! Inactivity is in my opinion far more dangerous for you than movement BUT yes there is always a BUT at certain times in our lives certain movements are not the best choice and need to be approached with care, education, support and most importantly body awareness. For example you have just been discharged from the hospital after knee surgery - is now the best time to hit the pavement and start training for a marathon? No! But is now the best time to focus on your recovery, rehab, your muscle imbalances and slowly build up to training for that marathon - hell yes!
This is the same with having kids. Giving birth is a big deal! Our bodies go through a lot! It is important that we allow our bodies time to recover post birth before we start loading them with high intensity loads like running. Even in an ideal world where your birth went swimmingly - your little precious poppet came into this world with no intervention - with a labor not too short and not too long and everyone feeling pretty good it is recommended you wait at least 5 to 6 months before you START introducing high impact exercise again. Adding high impact exercise in too soon can mean a list of possible injuries/issues…. Knee pain, hip pain, sore back, leaking, prolapse…
Now I am going to throw another spanner in the works and put it out there that in my opinion I do not think time is the best way to decide if your body is ready for high impact movements or not…. There is no magic time frame after birth where bam your body is miraculously all good to go with whatever movement you choose. Yes giving your body time to recover post birth is a FANTASTIC and VITAL thing to do but….it is not the only thing you need to do to ensure your body is ready for high impact movement like running. Your body has changed (not a bad thing!) and the way you move in your body has probably also changed. You need to give your body time to recover AS WELL as focus on your rehab, your muscle imbalances, and inner stability system before loading it with high impact movements like running. This does not mean a pass to be lazy sally (well actually if you are sleep deprived and nourishing another human from your body it totally does) it means you need to start off slowly and build your body back up to doing what you love.
I truly believe no matter where you are nothing is ever completely off the table but you need to be smart, patient and get the guidance you need.
I know telling a runner not to run is like telling a toddler to be rational mid tantrum… but think of this as short term loss for long term gain. A little patience and persistence goes a looooong way! There is a lot you can do in the meantime :).
When you have given your body time to recover and feel confident that you have done the foundation work necessary to get back to running here are a few (not all - I’d be here all day!) things to consider;
I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU GET CHECKED BY A WOMEN'S HEALTH PHYSIO (I know dog with a bone on this one - go and get your foo checked!). This can be a scary thought to some but please remember physio’s are there to help you get back to the movement you love safely. Knowledge is power and understanding where your body is at is in my opinion an absolute must! If you are in Mangawhai or Whangarei we have an amazing pelvic physio Shelly Solomon from Fresh Start Physiotherapy that I would highly recommend.
Running puts a massive load on your pelvic floor and core. Every time your foot strikes the ground a massive load goes through your legs and core. You want to make sure your body can manage this load effectively.
If you have diastasis (abdominal separation) you are at more risk of injury while running….. Even more reason to rehab first, run second. If you think you do have abdominal separation please please see a women’s health physio or at least a trainer experienced with diastasis (whole other post all about this!)
Any form of leaking is your bodies way of saying - HELLO I am not coping with this load - please listen! It does not mean you will never run, it means you need to take a step back, get guidance as to how you load through your core, your running technique, your bodies imbalances etc work on those first and then get back to pounding the pavement.
If you have an urge to pee after you stop running this is also a sign that your system is not coping with this movement the best.
A few quick tips for once you have had the A OK from your friendly women’s health physio and pull out your running shoes…...
Start slowly and gradually build up - eg run 30sec walk 1 min and slowly increase. Your core may not be as ‘fit’ as the rest of you. It needs a chance to catch up.
Start on flat surfaces or even better slight uphill. Up hill is far less load on your core and automatically puts you in a forward bend position. (whole other post on running technique :) )
Down hill is by far the hardest on your foo and the highest impact - listen to your body. Again build up to running the down.
Mix up the surfaces you run on - I know tarseal kills me but off road is not so bad. Try grass, sand, gravel etc.
Invest in decent shoes. Excuse to go shopping!
If you are running with a pram be aware of the load you are pushing - you are basically doing an upright plank while running. Be aware that you are not gripping your upper abbs. The more you mobilise your upper body the harder it is to grip your abbs. It is hard to mobilise your upper body while pushing a pram or holding a dog on a lead for that matter.
Do not grip your foo while you run - you need to let your pelvic floor move through its full range of motion. Imagine your day with your bicep flexed the entire time….. Let your pelvic floor do what it needs to do naturally. If you do not feel comfortable doing this take a step back and spend a little more time on rehab first.
Make sure you are using your glutes when you run - they should do a lot of the work! The less they do the more your core and the rest of your muscles have to do… Spend some time getting your glutes firing again if they do not automatically fire like most of ours don't.
There's so so much you can do to get back to running safely. Nothing is ever off the table for good but if you do it slowly with the right progressions you will still be running into your wrinklier years.
As always this is generic advise and not tailored to any specific individual. Pretty please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss in more detail.