Return to running after pregnancy

As a new mum there are many questions we have about recovery and the best way to set out on that journey. Often we are feeling tired and weak in our bodies but yet have a strong urge to get back on our feet and moving again! Exercise offers numerous benefits during the postnatal period, from regaining strength and fitness to boosting those feel-good endorphins. Whatever your main motivation, getting back into exercise, especially high-impact activities like running, can present unique challenges. Running demands a lot from the body, so it’s crucial to ensure you’re “run ready” before hitting the pavement.

Women running post pregnancy

Understanding the Guidelines

In 2019, Grainne Donnelly and Emma Brockwell published guidelines for returning to running postpartum. These guidelines suggest that high-impact exercise is generally not advisable before 12 weeks postnatal. However, there are specific signs and symptoms to watch for before and after attempting to run. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a pelvic health physiotherapist:

– Heaviness or dragging in the pelvic area
– Leaking urine or inability to control bowel movements
– A pointy or pendular abdomen, giving the appearance of still being pregnant
– Pelvic or lower back pain
– Ongoing blood loss beyond 8 weeks postnatal that isn’t linked to your menstrual cycle

Assessment and Rehabilitation

Pelvic health physiotherapists also use objective measures of the pelvic floor and perineal area that can further inform the safe return to running / high impact exercise. A weak pelvic floor or a larger vaginal opening on assessment can highlight the need for further rehabilitation prior to returning to exercise.

Additional Factors to Consider

Other factors also affect the load bearing abilities of the pelvic region – these may include body weight, general fitness level, hip and abdominal muscle strength and endurance, scar mobility and healing stage, breastfeeding status, supportive clothing and footwear, good quality sleep and of course nutrition.  Once you have out-ruled any issues that preclude running, a great way to return to running is on a phased basis following a progressive program such as the Couch to 5 Km.

Guidance from Chartered Physiotherapists

Chartered Physiotherapists in Pelvic Health can provide personalised guidance for your recovery journey, helping you feel strong and confident as you return to running. If you’re considering a return to running after pregnancy and want to ensure you’re doing it safely, our expert team of pelvic health physios at PMC Physiotherapy is here to help. We offer comprehensive assessments and tailored rehabilitation programs designed to meet your individual needs and goals. Take the first step towards a healthy and active postpartum journey. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and make a booking with one of our specialist pelvic health physios. Your health and well-being are our top priorities, and we look forward to supporting you on your path to recovery and fitness.


PMC Physiotherapy Clinic, Unit 36, Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath

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