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Getting Back to Running After Childbirth, What Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists Need to Know

Written by Lauren Trosch, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist

 

Most of us have heard the question “when can I safely get back to running after delivery?” Until last year, we had very little guidance on what to tell our patients. Most of us would tell them:

  1. They need to wait 6 weeks to get approval from their OBGYNs
  2. They need to walk comfortably without any heaviness, leaking, or pain
  3. They need to have enough strength, endurance, and mobility to meet the demands of running

Of course, these were great guiding principles, but were they enough? If someone wasn’t experiencing heaviness in their pelvis, pain, or urinary leaking, could they start running without increased risk of prolapse or incontinence? While we don’t know the exact answer to that question, we do have guidelines, based on the best evidence out there, that moms should wait at 3 months before they begin running. (See link to guidelines below).

Having some evidence-based time frames are fantastic, but lead to more questions. One of the big questions we face is…

 

How can we keep new moms active and healthy for at least 3 months until they can possibly return to running?

The guidelines recommend a progressive, low impact exercise program that includes pelvic floor, core, and lower body strengthening and cardiovascular exercise. During this time, we need to use our clinical skills to create a progressive exercise program that safely prepares moms for running.

Once they have run through the program, the next question is…

What kind of testing needs to be done before we clear moms for running?

When we believe they may be ready to run, we need to test their strength, endurance, and functional mobility to make sure their bodies can meet the high demands of running. The guidelines provide screening tests that we can easily use in our practice to assess a mom’s readiness to return to running.

 

What if we are hitting some bumps along the way and need some help?

We do not need to work alone. If needed, we can work with our orthopedic and urogyn colleagues and running coaches to get our patients running as quickly and safely as possible. We need to take some weight off of our shoulders! We do not need to be the expert in everything and some moms need a team of providers to help them achieve their goals.

 

Final Thoughts?

Exercise can be such an important part of a new mom’s physical and mental wellbeing. It’s important to provide moms with thoughtful, evidence-based care to maximize their happiness and healthiness during this early postpartum period and beyond.

Click the link below to access the virtual discussion on Returning to running postnatal-guidelines for medical health and fitness professionals managing this population.

Play Free Webinar Recording

Access Guidelines

Want to advance your knowledge further? Check out our upcoming related webinars!

 

Upcoming Related Webinars

Pelvic Floor Implications for the Running Athlete (PFIRA)
Speaker: Amanda Olson, PT, DPT, PRPC
Virtual Webinars: April 25-26, 2020 (Sat-Sun); May 16-17, 2020 (Sat-Sun)

Running is a complex biomechanical process which can be derailed by pelvic floor dysfunction. Conversely, the impact of running can result in pelvic floor dysfunction and injury to the pelvic floor muscles. Runners have unique physical, nutritional, and psychological needs that require special attention from pelvic floor physical therapists. Additionally, runners often present to orthopedic specialists with knee and hip injuries that do not resolve as expected due to the presence of pelvic floor impairments that are missed by orthopedic physical therapists. Pelvic floor practitioners can provide necessary physical therapy treatment to address issues for runners and work in tandem with orthopedic colleagues for optimal rehabilitation of runners with pelvic floor dysfunction.

Free Gift! $20 OFF voucher. Use code 20OFFPFIRA when checking out online.

Learn More & Register

 

 

Article Author

Lauren Trosch, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist

Lauren Trosch, DPT, OCS is a pelvic floor physical therapists who helps people with urinary incontinence, painful sex, and other bladder and bowel issues. She is passionate about promoting pelvic health and is active in the pelvic floor community. She is the volunteer coordinator for the Academy of Pelvic Health, assists in the development Clinical Practice Guidelines for the academy, and leads a scientific journal club in the Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland region that discusses pelvic floor problems.

 

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