Running After Baby

Mar 16, 2021

Knowing when and if you’re ready to get back to running after a baby is an important question that is often not addressed.  A lot of moms are itching to get back to the sport they love, however, it is very important to make sure you do it in a safe way.

Here are a few steps to help resume running after baby:

Step 1: Check your strength

High-impact activities such as running creates a sudden increase in intra-abdominal pressure and ground reaction forces (1.6-2.5 times body weight) that are transferred through the pelvic floor. This is why it is important to strengthen and coordinate the muscles of the pelvic floor before starting a return to running program.

A pelvic health physiotherapist can give you specific strengthening exercises to target your particular weakness. But these are a few examples of some exercises to incorporate into your daily strengthening routine:

  •  10 second single leg balance
  • 10 single leg squats each side
  • 10 single leg bridges
  • 10 forward bounds
  • 10 single leg hops
  • 10 body weight squats

** It is important to make sure you are able to perform the following without pain, heaviness, dragging or incontinence.

Step 2: Work on your breath

Diaphragmatic breathing is a wonderful way to engage the pelvic floor and strengthen the diaphragm. This type of breathing decreases oxygen demand because it uses less energy.  Learn how to engage your pelvic floor during diaphragmatic breathing so you can know that your pelvic floor is assisting your breathing pattern while running.

How to perform diaphragmatic breathing:

  • Lie on your back, placing one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, thinking of expanding the rib cage in all directions. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible, and the hand on the stomach should rise.
  • As you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles and engage the pelvic floor. Think of your stomach falling inwards as you breathe out through pursed lips.

Do this exercise 5-10 minutes multiple times per day.

You can incorporate diaphragmatic breathing during strength exercises.  Breathe OUT on effort and IN on rest.

Step 3: Check your alignment

During and after pregnancy it is normal to have an anterior pelvic tilt (meaning the front of your hips tilt forward.) This is caused by weakness in the core stabilizers, and tightness in the lower back and hamstrings. If you are running with a pelvis in an anterior tilt, you can increase your likelihood of worsening diastasis recti, creating pelvic floor dysfunction, as well as increase your likelihood of developing lower extremity strains and tendon issues.

Therefore, ensure that your hips are in a neutral position before hitting the pavement. Performing deep core stabilizing movements (eg. Plank), and stretches for the lower back, hips and hamstrings will help bring your pelvis to the normal neutral position while running.

Step 4: Start with walking 

Walking is a great way to increase your cardiovascular endurance without putting as much strain on the joints and organs. Slowly increase the intensity and duration, eventually adding hill intervals.

When you feel strong in the core, hips and have increased the length and pace of your walks without symptoms, you can start a walk-running program. To start, run for 30-60 seconds and walk for 90 seconds.   Run at a pace that feels good and be patient with your body as it heals and adapts.

Gradually increase mileage, pace, terrain, and frequency 10-30% every 3 weeks. This helps to reduce injury and burn out. Aim to introduce a new variable or increase milage every 2-3 weeks. This allows your body to adapt to the new stimulus; just as you would recovering from a running injury!

Step 6: Learn Patience

Running after having a baby is a journey. Every single body and birth is unique and every mom will handle running after having a baby differently. If something feels uncomfortable, don’t push It. I know runners are always itching to get back to running as fast as possible but patience will pay off! All postnatal women, should wait until 12 weeks and be assessed and treated by a pelvic health physiotherapist prior to returning to running.

At our Clinics, Candace Mazur, PT, MScPT at Sturgeon Medical & Mika Bodet, PT, BScPT, at Servus Place offer Pelvic Health Physiotherapy.

To book in for an appointment with them, book online or call 780-458-8505

All the best in getting back at it!



Goom, T.,  Donnelly, G. and Brockwell, E. (2019) Returning to running postnatal – guideline for medical, health and fitness professionals managing this population. []

Ardern, C., Glasgow, P., Schneiders, A., Witvrouw, E., Clarsen, B., Cools, A., Gojanovic, B., Griffin, S., Khan, K., Moksnes, H., Mutch, S., Phillips, N., Reurink, G., Sadler, R., Grävare Silbernagel, K., Thorborg, K., Wangensteen, A., Wilk, K. and Bizzini, M. (2016). 2016 Consensus statement on return to sport from the First World Congress in Sports Physical Therapy, Bern. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(14), pp.853-864.

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