I often see Mums for postnatal assessments who are keen to return to running 🏃🏻‍♀️⁠
But they are often an equal mix of eager to hit the pavement 🤗 , and worried they’ll do more harm than good 😬⁠⁠

So what does the evidence say?⁠

A recent study looking at the risk factor for postpartum runners surveyed 538 postpartum runners, with and without pain.
It compared training factors like

  • mileage
  • time to first postpartum run

and post-partum factors like

  • delivery type
  • breastfeeding
  • incontinence
  • sleep
  • fatigue
  • depression

demographic factors like

  • age
  • race
  • education

6 significant variables were found to be associated with running-related pain with the risk of pain increasing the more variables they had

1+ factor – 33.6%increased possibility
2+ factors – 37.8%increased possibility
3+ factors – 48.7%increased possibility
4+ factor – 61.2%increased possibility
5+ factor – 90%increased possibility
6+ factor – 100%increased possibility

These are the 6 variables

  1. Being a novice runner
  2. Accumulated fatigue score (>19)
  3. Previous running injurt
  4. Vaginal delivery
  5. Incontinence
  6. Average sleep (<6.8 hours per night)

So, what does this mean?

It means that the needs of postpartum women returning to running or sport after pregnancy are multidimensional! And it means that these women need to be supported.

What can you do?

Not all of your factors will be things you can modify. So why start by addressing the things you can change.

  • Wait at least 12 weeks for adequate tissue healing
  • See support from a physio to address any current pain otr impairments from previous injuries
  • See a women’s health physio to assess and manage your incontinence
  • Return to running slowly and build up distance and intensity gradually
  • Prioritise res and sleep (as much as is possible with young children!) to minimise fatigue.

My 🔥 tip? ⁠

Wait at least 12 weeks to return and use this time to address the factors you CAN change (and let go of the things you can’t)⁠

Need help? Reach out. I can support you 💙

Reference – Christopher S, Cook C, Snodgrass S (2021) – What are the biopyschosocial risk factors associated with pain in runners? development of a clinical decision tool. PLoS One. 16(8). e0255383