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Getting Back To Running After Giving Birth: A Guide For Postpartum Women Getting Back To Running After Giving Birth: A Guide For Postpartum Women

Health & Nutrition

Getting Back To Running After Giving Birth: A Guide For Postpartum Women

Written by: Annecorinne Mcknight

Discover expert tips and advice for postpartum women looking to get back into running. Learn about health and nutrition strategies for a safe and effective return to exercise.

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Table of Contents

Understanding the Changes in Your Body

After giving birth, your body undergoes significant changes, both internally and externally. Understanding these changes is crucial as you embark on your journey to get back to running.

  1. Physical Changes: Your body has just completed the miraculous process of childbirth, and it needs time to recover. The muscles and ligaments in your pelvic area may be weakened, and your abdominal muscles may have stretched during pregnancy. Additionally, hormonal fluctuations can affect your joints and ligaments, potentially leading to decreased stability and increased risk of injury.

  2. Pelvic Floor: The pelvic floor, a group of muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowel, may have experienced strain during childbirth. This can lead to issues such as urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Understanding the importance of pelvic floor health is essential for postpartum women, especially those looking to resume running.

  3. Energy Levels: Sleepless nights and the demands of caring for a newborn can leave you feeling exhausted. It's important to recognize that your energy levels may not be the same as they were pre-pregnancy.

  4. Breastfeeding: If you're breastfeeding, your body is expending additional energy and nutrients to produce milk. This can impact your hydration levels and overall energy reserves, which are crucial for physical activity.

  5. Emotional Well-being: The postpartum period can bring about a range of emotions, from joy and fulfillment to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. Understanding the emotional toll of childbirth and the postpartum period is essential as you navigate the physical challenges of returning to running.

By acknowledging and understanding these changes, you can approach your postpartum running journey with patience, self-compassion, and a realistic mindset. It's important to listen to your body and give it the time and care it needs to heal and regain strength.


Starting Slow: Building Up Your Endurance

As a postpartum woman, it's crucial to approach the journey of getting back to running with patience and a gradual mindset. Your body has just undergone the incredible feat of childbirth, and it needs time to recover and rebuild its strength. Starting slow and gradually building up your endurance is key to preventing injuries and allowing your body to adapt to the physical demands of running.

Listen to Your Body

When you first start running again after giving birth, pay close attention to how your body responds. Begin with gentle activities such as walking or light jogging, allowing your muscles and joints to reacquaint themselves with the movements. It's normal to experience feelings of fatigue and reduced stamina initially, so be mindful of your energy levels and any discomfort or pain. If you feel any unusual or persistent pain, it's essential to pause and reassess rather than pushing through it.

Embrace Interval Training

Incorporating interval training into your running routine can be highly beneficial during the postpartum period. Alternating between periods of light jogging and walking allows you to gradually increase your cardiovascular endurance without overexerting your body. This approach also provides an opportunity to gauge your body's response to the increased activity and adjust the intensity accordingly.

Set Realistic Goals

As you embark on your postpartum running journey, setting realistic and achievable goals is paramount. Instead of aiming for long distances or fast paces right from the start, focus on gradually increasing your running duration and intensity over time. Celebrate the small milestones, such as completing a longer stretch of continuous running or feeling less fatigued during your workouts. By acknowledging and celebrating these achievements, you'll maintain motivation and a positive outlook on your progress.

Prioritize Rest and Recovery

Incorporating rest days into your running schedule is essential for allowing your body to recover and adapt to the physical exertion. Adequate rest enables your muscles to repair and strengthen, reducing the risk of overuse injuries. Additionally, prioritizing quality sleep and proper nutrition supports your body's recovery process, ensuring that you have the energy and resources needed to build endurance and resilience.

Gradually Increase Intensity

As your body begins to adapt to the physical demands of running, you can gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. This may involve incorporating short bursts of faster running or tackling gentle inclines to challenge your cardiovascular system and muscular strength. However, it's crucial to approach intensity increases with caution, ensuring that your body is ready for the added challenge and that you're not pushing beyond your current capabilities.

By starting slow and gradually building up your endurance, you'll give your body the opportunity to regain strength and adapt to the demands of running postpartum. This approach not only reduces the risk of injuries but also fosters a sustainable and enjoyable running experience as you progress on your postpartum fitness journey.


Incorporating Pelvic Floor Exercises

Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your postpartum fitness routine is crucial for rebuilding strength and addressing any potential issues that may arise due to childbirth. The pelvic floor, a group of muscles situated at the base of the pelvis, plays a vital role in supporting the pelvic organs, maintaining urinary and bowel control, and contributing to core stability. During pregnancy and childbirth, these muscles undergo significant strain, leading to potential weakening and dysfunction. By integrating targeted pelvic floor exercises, you can promote recovery, prevent complications, and support your overall well-being as you ease back into running.

Understanding Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, often referred to as Kegel exercises, involve contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor. These exercises aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, improve their endurance, and enhance their coordination. When performed consistently and correctly, pelvic floor exercises can help address issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and postpartum recovery.

Getting Started

Before incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your routine, it's essential to identify the correct muscles and understand the proper technique. One way to locate the pelvic floor muscles is by imagining stopping the flow of urine midstream. The muscles engaged during this action are the ones targeted by pelvic floor exercises. However, it's important to note that this practice of stopping urination should not be done regularly, as it can lead to bladder issues.

Exercise Techniques

Once you've identified the pelvic floor muscles, you can begin incorporating specific exercises into your daily routine. One common exercise involves contracting the pelvic floor muscles and holding the contraction for several seconds before releasing. Aim to perform multiple sets of these contractions throughout the day, gradually increasing the duration of each hold as your strength improves.

Coordination with Running

Integrating pelvic floor exercises with your running routine can further support your postpartum recovery. Engaging the pelvic floor muscles while running can enhance core stability, reduce the risk of urinary incontinence during physical activity, and contribute to overall pelvic floor strength. It's important to maintain awareness of your pelvic floor engagement while running, especially during high-impact movements such as running strides and jumps.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If you experience persistent pelvic floor issues or uncertainty about the correct exercise techniques, seeking guidance from a pelvic health physiotherapist or a healthcare professional specializing in postpartum care is highly recommended. These professionals can provide personalized guidance, assess your pelvic floor function, and offer tailored exercises to address your specific needs.

Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your postpartum running journey empowers you to proactively support your pelvic floor health, enhance core stability, and minimize the risk of postpartum complications. By prioritizing these exercises alongside your running routine, you can foster a strong foundation for your overall postpartum recovery and fitness journey.


Choosing the Right Gear and Support

Selecting the appropriate gear and seeking adequate support are pivotal considerations for postpartum women aiming to resume running. The right gear not only enhances comfort and performance but also provides essential support for the body as it readjusts to physical activity post-childbirth.

Supportive Sports Bras

Investing in a high-quality, supportive sports bra is paramount for postpartum women returning to running. The breasts undergo changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and a well-fitted sports bra offers crucial support, minimizing discomfort and reducing the risk of breast pain or damage to the breast tissue. Look for sports bras specifically designed for postpartum use, featuring adjustable straps, moisture-wicking fabric, and adequate coverage to ensure optimal support and comfort during running sessions.

Proper Footwear

Choosing the right running shoes is essential for postpartum women, as the body's biomechanics may have shifted during pregnancy. Seek out shoes that provide adequate cushioning, arch support, and stability to accommodate any changes in foot shape or gait. Consider visiting a specialty running store for a professional fitting to ensure that your footwear aligns with your postpartum needs and running goals.

Supportive Apparel

Opt for running apparel that offers a balance of comfort, breathability, and support. Moisture-wicking fabrics help manage sweat and maintain skin integrity, while supportive compression garments can aid in muscle recovery and reduce post-exercise soreness. Additionally, choosing running attire that accommodates postpartum body changes, such as high-waisted leggings or supportive shorts, can enhance comfort and confidence during workouts.

Postpartum Support Belts

For women who have undergone cesarean deliveries or are experiencing abdominal discomfort postpartum, utilizing a postpartum support belt can provide valuable assistance. These belts offer gentle compression and support to the abdominal area, promoting comfort and stability during physical activity. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable type of support belt based on individual recovery needs.

Seeking Community and Professional Support

In addition to selecting the right gear, seeking support from fellow postpartum runners or joining postnatal fitness groups can provide valuable encouragement, shared experiences, and a sense of community. Engaging with individuals who understand the unique challenges and triumphs of postpartum running can offer emotional support and motivation throughout the journey.

Furthermore, consulting with a healthcare provider or a postpartum fitness specialist can offer personalized guidance and support tailored to individual postpartum recovery needs. These professionals can provide insights into safe and effective training methods, address any concerns related to postpartum exercise, and offer recommendations for integrating running into a comprehensive postpartum fitness plan.

By prioritizing the selection of appropriate gear and seeking support from knowledgeable sources, postpartum women can enhance their running experience, minimize discomfort, and promote a safe and effective return to physical activity following childbirth.


Returning to running after giving birth presents postpartum women with a unique set of challenges that require careful navigation and consideration. Understanding and addressing these challenges is essential for fostering a safe and sustainable postpartum running journey.

Physical Discomfort and Fatigue

Postpartum women may experience physical discomfort and heightened fatigue as they resume running. The body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth, and it takes time to readjust to physical activity. Musculoskeletal discomfort, pelvic floor issues, and overall fatigue can impact the running experience. Navigating these challenges involves listening to your body, acknowledging the need for adequate rest, and seeking professional guidance if persistent discomfort arises.

Hormonal and Emotional Shifts

The postpartum period is characterized by hormonal fluctuations and emotional adjustments. These shifts can influence mood, energy levels, and overall well-being, potentially impacting the motivation to engage in physical activity. Navigating these challenges involves prioritizing self-care, seeking emotional support when needed, and recognizing that fluctuations in mood and energy are normal during this phase of life.

Time Constraints and Childcare Responsibilities

Balancing the demands of caring for a newborn or young children with the desire to engage in regular running can be a significant challenge for postpartum women. Time constraints and childcare responsibilities may limit the availability for consistent exercise. Navigating these challenges involves exploring flexible workout options, such as incorporating stroller running or finding support for childcare during exercise sessions. Additionally, communicating openly with family members or partners about the importance of carving out time for physical activity can help address this challenge.

Postpartum Body Image and Self-Confidence

The postpartum period often brings about shifts in body image and self-confidence. Women may feel self-conscious about physical changes or struggle with accepting and embracing their postpartum bodies. Navigating these challenges involves fostering a positive and compassionate mindset, surrounding oneself with supportive and empowering communities, and focusing on the strength and resilience of the body rather than external appearance.

Managing Expectations and Progress

Setting realistic expectations and managing progress can be challenging for postpartum women returning to running. It's common to compare current performance to pre-pregnancy abilities, leading to frustration or disappointment. Navigating these challenges involves celebrating small victories, acknowledging the resilience of the body, and embracing the journey of gradual improvement without undue pressure or comparison.

By acknowledging and navigating these potential challenges, postpartum women can approach their running journey with resilience, self-compassion, and a proactive mindset. Each challenge presents an opportunity for growth and adaptation, ultimately contributing to a fulfilling and sustainable postpartum running experience.


Setting Realistic Goals and Expectations

Setting realistic goals and expectations is a fundamental aspect of the postpartum running journey. As a postpartum woman, it's essential to approach this phase with a balanced and patient mindset, acknowledging the unique circumstances and physical changes that accompany the postpartum period.

Embracing the Postpartum Journey

Upon returning to running after giving birth, it's crucial to embrace the postpartum journey as a distinct chapter in your fitness and wellness narrative. Recognizing that your body has undergone a remarkable transformation and needs time to recover and readjust sets the foundation for establishing realistic goals. Embracing the postpartum journey involves shifting the focus from achieving immediate performance milestones to prioritizing gradual progress and overall well-being.

Celebrating Small Milestones

Incorporating a mindset of celebrating small milestones is instrumental in setting realistic goals. Instead of fixating on pre-pregnancy running times or distances, celebrate achievements such as completing a consistent week of running, feeling stronger during workouts, or experiencing improved post-run recovery. By acknowledging and celebrating these incremental victories, you cultivate a positive and motivating outlook on your postpartum running journey.

Adapting to New Realities

Postpartum women often find themselves adapting to new realities, including changes in energy levels, time constraints, and physical capabilities. Setting realistic goals involves aligning your running aspirations with these new realities. This may entail adjusting your training frequency, modifying workout intensities based on energy levels, and embracing the flexibility needed to accommodate the demands of postpartum life. By acknowledging and adapting to these new realities, you create a sustainable framework for your running goals.

Prioritizing Overall Well-being

In the postpartum period, prioritizing overall well-being over specific performance targets is paramount. This encompasses nurturing physical recovery, supporting emotional wellness, and fostering a positive body image. Setting realistic goals involves intertwining running objectives with holistic well-being, ensuring that your pursuits contribute to your overall health and happiness. By prioritizing well-being, you establish a foundation for sustainable and fulfilling postpartum running goals.

Cultivating Patience and Adaptability

Patience and adaptability are essential virtues when setting postpartum running goals. Embracing the journey with patience allows for gradual progress, reducing the likelihood of feeling discouraged by initial challenges. Additionally, remaining adaptable to the fluctuations in energy, recovery, and daily responsibilities empowers you to adjust your goals and expectations as needed, fostering a resilient and accommodating approach to your postpartum running journey.

In essence, setting realistic goals and expectations involves embracing the postpartum journey, celebrating incremental achievements, adapting to new realities, prioritizing overall well-being, and cultivating patience and adaptability. By integrating these principles into your approach to postpartum running, you lay the groundwork for a sustainable, fulfilling, and empowering fitness journey.


Seeking Professional Guidance and Support

Seeking professional guidance and support is a crucial step for postpartum women embarking on their running journey. The expertise and insights provided by healthcare professionals and specialized practitioners play a pivotal role in ensuring a safe, effective, and sustainable return to physical activity following childbirth.

Healthcare Providers: Consulting with obstetricians, gynecologists, or primary care physicians is essential for obtaining clearance to engage in postpartum exercise, including running. These healthcare professionals can assess individual recovery progress, address any lingering postpartum concerns, and offer personalized recommendations based on specific health considerations. By obtaining medical clearance and guidance, postpartum women can proceed with confidence, knowing that their exercise plans align with their overall health status.

Pelvic Health Physiotherapists: Pelvic health physiotherapists specialize in assessing and addressing pelvic floor function, musculoskeletal recovery, and postpartum rehabilitation. These professionals offer valuable insights into pelvic floor exercises, core strengthening techniques, and strategies for mitigating postpartum musculoskeletal discomfort. Additionally, they can provide guidance on integrating running into a postpartum fitness plan, ensuring that the activity aligns with pelvic health and overall recovery goals.

Postpartum Fitness Specialists: Engaging with postpartum fitness specialists or trainers with expertise in postnatal exercise allows women to access tailored training programs designed specifically for the postpartum body. These specialists can offer guidance on exercise modifications, progressive training approaches, and strategies for addressing postpartum challenges such as diastasis recti or pelvic floor dysfunction. By working with professionals well-versed in postpartum fitness, women can optimize their running experience while minimizing the risk of postpartum complications.

Nutritionists and Dietitians: Nutrition plays a vital role in postpartum recovery and energy replenishment, particularly for women returning to physical activity. Consulting with nutritionists or dietitians can provide valuable insights into postpartum nutrition, hydration strategies, and dietary considerations to support running performance and overall well-being. These professionals can offer personalized nutrition plans tailored to the unique postpartum nutritional needs, ensuring that women have the energy and nutrients required for their running pursuits.

By seeking professional guidance and support from healthcare providers, specialized practitioners, and nutrition experts, postpartum women can navigate their running journey with comprehensive care, personalized insights, and the assurance that their postpartum fitness endeavors align with their individual recovery needs and overall well-being.

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