Are you strong enough to run?
Let's talk about postnatal running, and help you answer the question...are you strong enough to run?
Running is a complex activity requiring a stable centre, in combination with moving all 4 limbs while absorbing impact with the ground. This presents a particular challenge if you've recently had a baby. Pregnancy will usually de-condition muscles which play a significant role in supporting the pelvis, the muscles which generate the momentum of running and those which absorb impact.
Being 'strong enough' to run will protect you from a host of running injuries and pelvic health issues, for example leaking urine/wind/faeces while running and pelvic organ prolapse.
When runners start to experience joint or muscle pain, they often assume an injury or tissue damage has occurred. While this may be the case, commonly the problem is associated with over-use, or under-capacity!
We all have a certain capacity, threshold or limit to our running. If you are fit and well-conditioned to running, you may cope very well with frequent or long runs. But when you've recently had a baby, building up your strength for running (not just your cardiovascular stamina) is essential to avoid exceeding your running capacity or threshold. This is when joint/muscle pain and/or pelvic health issues will likely manifest themselves.
The key muscles we need to stabilise our centre, absorb impact and generate propulsion
Working on these groups in preparation for a return to running or to build capacity/tolerance in an established runner is highly recommended as a tool to protect against musculoskeletal injury and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Below are some simple tests you can do to asses your own strength and readiness for running. It's suggested that you co-ordinate your breathing with each movement so as to enhance pelvic floor involvement. Inhale to prepare, exhale to lift, inhale lower. How many can you do of each, before you reach failure*?
*Failure is the point at which you can't do any more, or your technique starts to deteriorate. Only count the good ones! If any of these tests HURT, over and above the muscle effort demanded by the task....stop immediately.
It's suggested runners should be able to complete around 25 reps of each movement. Are you close to this? Miles off?? These tests will give you some good insight into which areas you might want to consider working on to improve your running tolerance. This is also a great way to improve times/speeds so it might help you reach your running goals, alongside preventing leaking and pain!
I assist new Mums pave their return to running with online postnatal core rehab; free trial classes are available if you would like to try out a session with me, you can find out more here.
Many new Mums don’t consider the need for ‘postnatal rehab’, but with 1 in 3 UK women experiencing incontinence and 1 in 2 symptomatic of prolapse....the statistics speak for themselves. Build your foundation, before you add the impact of running!
Women’s Health Physiotherapist | Mum| Runner| Pilates Instructor