Check out Part I for Postpartum Running: Sarah's Journey
Now that you know a little bit of my story, let's go over a few things not everyone talks about that factors into getting back to running post baby. These are just a few of the things I experienced have since learned from, but really wish I had known from the get-go!
1. Healing takes time.
Just because the doctor released me at 6 weeks to run didn’t mean my body was ready! Never did I imagine, especially after baby number two, the pain I would have in weird and unusual places that would cause me to second-guess what I was doing. PTs and women health specialists are now saying return to running 12 weeks postpartum instead of 6, but listening to your body is what's most important!
2. Your pelvic floor likely needs attention.
Leaking, prolapse, diastasis recti are serious issues! While, yes, they are common, they are not normal. Please reach out to a pelvic health physical therapist or a women's health provider today if you're experiencing any of these symptoms.
3. Breathing exercises are important.
I know breathing exercises may seem too simple to actually aide in any sort of fitness progress, but they are actually key! Improper breathing (yes, there is such a thing) can often be a root cause of many types of pain, pelvic floor issues such as pain during intercourse, and even high blood pressure.
According to Harvard.edu, "diaphragmatic breathing (also called 'abdominal breathing' or 'belly breathing') encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure."
Proper breathing is ESPECIALLY important during your workouts. If you're holding your breath, you could easily trigger an injury. Check out the video here to see an example of proper belly breathing and an example of improper belly breathing.
4. Your shoe size could be different.
Did your feet grow a half size post baby? Mine didn’t, but it does happen to a lot of women! But, because I wasn’t as strong as I used to be, I did need better support in my shoes (and my sports bra, truthfully, haha!). Go to a running store for a professional fit. Try on several new shoes- it will change how you feel, I promise. Treat yourself!
5. Breastfeeding will complicate running.
No one tells you just how uncomfortable it will be, that you need more support (I mean physically here, but, also mentally/emotionally of course), and you will probably leak a little bit. Make sure you pump/feed prior to running and buy a new supportive sports bra (or try wearing two). Also, make sure to keep hydrated! Breastfeeding already makes you seriously thirsty and adding exercise on top of that is a recipe for dehydration, so drink drink drink!
6. You should prioritize sleep over running sometimes.
I know it may seem like you're letting yourself down if you turn your running time into a nap time, but if your body doesn’t get enough sleep you won't have the energy to even get through the day, let alone a workout. Remember to rest when needed and take care of your body! Sleep is one of the most important things to allow your body to re-energize for another day, so it's ok to nap instead of run; the running can wait and be done another day when your body is properly prepared for it.
7. It is so difficult to run with a stroller!
Especially if you’re pushing multiple kids! It’s a nightmare trying to push and pump your arms, not to mention the terrible posture that occurs. A stroller changes your stride length, arm swing, and cadence, throwing off all your mechanics, so it takes some time getting used to, for sure.
The worst part, though? All that extra weight! You are pushing a 30-40 pound stroller as well as a 15-20 pound child, or two children, so an extra 75 pounds? Dang, you go, Mama!
If your on a run with your kids, please, of all the things, do not forget the snacks!! You will play the stop and go game more than you would like feeding them to your kids...but, it’s part of it and is better to be prepared just in case! Nothing ruins a run like a meltdown!
8. Don't just hit the road without preparing your body first.
Begin with some low impact exercises and work your way up and make sure to improve your core and hip stability before jumping back onto the road. If you need help knowing where to start or how to work on these things, please don't hesitate to reach out to me!
Even though 12 weeks to get back in the saddle seems like forever, remember that it's ok to start slow. Listen to your body; getting in shape will happen at its own speed.
Give yourself some GRACE. You got this!
Thanks for reading!
Sarah Ritchie, PT, DPT.