5 Reasons Running Feels Hard After Babies

Running After Babies is Hard!

Running feels hard after babies, why is no one talking about it????

I think pregnancy and the time it takes to recover are hardest on us runners. All those skills and mindsets that made us successful, strong runners before baby make the period getting up and running again after baby really, really hard. Setting goals, following strict training plans, tracking miles and paces, working out even when we don't feel like it will not help us in the return to running phase after babies when we really need to take it easy, listen to our bodies, work on foundational strength, core and pelvic floor and understand the journey at this time is about quality training over quantity.  

And let’s be honest, we want to run but damn... running feels hard right??!!

That is because running after baby is hard on your body and despite the emotional strength, drive and determination you possess as a runner, your body needs time to rest, recover and heal after that baby comes. The thought of new mamma’s pushing their running too early makes me cringe because I have been there and done all the wrong things. I destroyed my pelvic floor, made a healing diastasic recti worse, broke my body down and I felt so lethargic and guilty about my poor running distances desperate to shed weight that I was not able to enjoy my time with my little one in my pursuit to getting my body and paces back as quick as possible.

Runnign after babies is HARD!

Here are 5 reasons why it feels so hard:

  1. Relaxin, that hormone responsible in preparation for childbirth to relax the ligaments in the pelvis and soften and widen the cervix for that baby to come on through, is still pumping around your body in those first months postpartum. It is uncertain but thought that relaxin can remain in your system for up to 12 months after you stop breast feeding making soft tissues, like ligaments, more lax and you more prone to injury to your hips, pubic symphysis, low back, and knees.
  2. Your abdominals have been stretched to accommodate that growing baby. You have become disconnected from your core muscles, they are not firing properly, your alignment is off and your pelvic floor is therefore unable to function properly. Your abdominals and pelvic floor work together, so when the abdominals are stretched, the pelvic floor is inefficient and the potential for organs to prolapse (fall out or feel like it) or urine to leak with coughing, sneezing, laughing and running is very common but not normal! It is essential to retrain your core and pelvic floor before you start pounding the pavement. Your core is made up of your postural muscles, low back muscles, abdominals, diaphragm and your pelvic floor. To support the impact and demands of running, these muscles all need to be strong and coordinated as they work together.
  3. You are seriously sleep deprived. enough said.
  4. You are likely not eating well. This is so common. You are nursing and too busy taking care of that baby to prioritize your own nutrition. If you aren't eating you won't have the energy you need to run. Then comes what do I eat before my run? After my run? For dinner??? It can all fel like too much.
  5. Every woman’s birthing experience is different. Was the pregnancy uncomplicated? C-section vs vaginal delivery? Experienced runner before baby? When was the last time you were physically active with any consistency? C-Section?  Tearing? How bad? There are a lot of variables here unique to each of us and they all come along with their own challenges as you try to get up and running again after baby.

In addition to all of that, you likely have postnatal depletion. You just gave everything to grow that baby. During pregnancy, a mother’s body becomes depleted of several key nutrients especially iron, zinc, vitamin B12, folate, iodine and selenium, as well as omega-3 fats like DHA, in order to support the baby’s growth and development in-utero. This depletion is compounded with each pregnancy, especially if they are close together with extended periods of breastfeeding, you have had twins, or if you had hyperemesis (extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy).  In some cases, mamma's are literally "running on empty".

We have a lot to deal with in those months to years after baby and that is why I strongly discourage you from running too soon. I recommend women wait 4 - 6 months before returning to running, never mind racing. That does not mean you have to sit around and do nothing. It means you learn to nourish your body with healthy food, you try get some sleep, you learn to reconnect to your core again and you do the right strength work to prepare your body to handle the impact and load of running again. It is a great time to learn to love and appreciate how movement feels and to get consistent in your workout efforts without further depleting your body of the energy, nutrition and sleep it needs during this period.

Want my return to running 28 Day Postpartum Training Program to restore your core and pelvic floor as you build a base of essential stength in all the right places to help you get back up and running safe and strong? JOIN RUNNINGMOMS HERE. It's included in the membership club and I'll help you through it every step pf the way.


Carey, Physiotherapist & Founder of RunningMoms

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