Are you a new mum who wants to go for a run? Read this first
I hope you've been able to embrace the outdoors this past week, despite the heavy downpours! I often find that going for a walk in the woods or along the river when it's pouring rain is incredibly invigorating. (You can then follow it up with some baking - Swedish cinnamon buns were on the menu for us this afternoon; always a hit with the kids!)
Being outdoors also reminded me that I wanted to re-visit the subject of running. I wrote a blog about this back in the spring and I feel it's worth re-visiting partly because I've had an influx of new Buggyfit mums of late and also because I know many of you are keen to run. Some mums took up running for the first time during lock-down as running is an accessible form of exercise. After all, all you need is a pair of trainers.
I've been a runner my entire life and love running outside to boost my mental health. But there are a few things to consider before putting on those trainers if you're newly postnatal:
1) Is your PELVIC FLOOR able to handle the dynamic pressure of running?
2) Do you have enough STABILITY in your body (eg pelvis, knees and ankles) to avoid injury while running?
3) Are your muscles (eg core, glutes and hamstrings) STRONG enough to support your body while running?
The hormone relaxin, which softens ligaments and tendons and thus leaves all your joints (not just your pelvis) less supported, takes a few months to fully leave your body following child birth (and will be present for as long as you breastfeed).
Your pelvic floor takes quite a beating during pregnancy as the constant weight (from your growing baby, the placenta, the amniotic fluid etc) weakens the muscles that make up the pelvic floor. If you had a vaginal birth (especially an instrumental one) those muscles would have been weakened further still. It will take time and effort for them to recover. Running too soon can aggravate the pelvic floor and either prolong your recovery or cause problems a few years down the line (hello menopause!).
At Buggyfit we recommend waiting until you are 5-6 months postpartum before you start running as by then you'll be breastfeeding less due to weaning. I know that might seem like an eternity to seasoned runners. If you are starting sooner, make sure you wear highly supportive trainers and follow a couch to 5k programme.
Nearly all of the exercises we do during a typical Buggyfit class will prepare your entire body for running: lunges, squats, calf raises, step-ups, single-leg deadlifts, back extensions, hip bridges, clams, push-ups and pelvic floor exercises. In HIIT and Boxercise (from 6 months) we take it one step further and add jumping squats and jumping lunges (if your body is ready for them). If you're able to do these pain-free and leak-free, then your body is most likely ready for a run.
I would always recommend combining running with strength training (eg bodyweight or dumbbells/kettlebells) and mobility work (eg Pilates) for the best all-round workout. In a recent blog I talked about the importance of cross training. And as always, listen to your body.
Stay healthy and happy.