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When can I return to running?

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Return to running after childbirth

Year in, year out, as the temperature starts to drop in Sydney, you start to notice people running EVERYWHERE!

And unless you're new to the area or have been living under a rock, you'll be well aware of the City2Surf, the iconic fun run that covers 14km of turf starting in the CBD with most of the route going through the Eastern Suburbs, finishing in our own back garden at Bondi Beach. Many say it's the unofficial start to the summer as it's usually a beautiful day and this year it takes place on Sunday 13th August.

However, following childbirth, the thought of even just a small jog can bring on a whole new wave of anxiety; Will I pee myself? Why does it feel heavy when I run? Why are my nipples so sore? When can I return to running after childbirth?

There is no hard and fast rule as to when a mum will be ready to return to running, as each woman's recovery is different. A women's health physio will take an external measurement of your levator hiatus which gives an indication of the pelvic floor length and in turn, determines her readiness to return to running. This measurement indicates how much support the pelvic floor offers the internal organs. Generally, it takes 12 weeks for the levator ani muscle to return to a suitable length required for the impact running has on the body. Full recovery of this muscle and the connective tissue surrounding it can take up to 4-6 months.

So you've signed up to City2Surf, what next?

Here are our top tips to consider before you start running:

  1. Go to see a Women's Health Physio. We cannot reiterate this enough, especially if running is your end game. Let your physio know that you want to run again and not only will they look at your pelvic floor health, but also check to see how your body is recovering posteriorly. Even if you are asymptomatic, it is really important to get the all-clear from a physio as your hormones change substantially during the early postpartum stages and symptoms may develop later.

  2. Get a decent sports bra. Your boobs may have grown a lot or a little, whether or not you are breastfeeding, the hormonal changes during pregnancy and after childbirth affect your breast tissue and they will certainly have changed in some shape or form. Chances are your faithful old sports bra isn't up to the task anymore as sports bras only have a lifespan of 6-12 months.

  3. If you're breastfeeding, time your runs so you are not running with full breasts because, well ouch! And keep yourself hydrated, particularly after a run to help with milk production.

  4. Start slow! No one expects you to take on Paula Radcliffe at a marathon. Following a gentle running program that progressively increases week in, week out will serve you better in the long run. Start as simple as1min on, 2 mins off for 10 minutes, so you can see how your body recovers.

  5. Follow a strength program to support the changes your body has been through. Structurally your body has changed, your pelvis has widened, you may be carrying more weight than previously which can add pressure to your pelvic floor as well as your joints. And chances are you're favoring one side of your body more than the other when it comes to holding your bub which can affect how your run. Strengthening your muscles to support your postpartum body will in turn help support your return to running.

In the lead-up to City2Surf, Mums: Redefined has created a special program to help mums cross the finish line safely, effectively...and most importantly without peeing themselves!

For more information and to receive your Return to Running Checklist, get in touch 👇

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