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How to Return to Running Postnatally Without Getting Injured

I’m four weeks post-partum, and even though I am still waiting for the okay from my doctor to start exercising, I know a lot of my Instagram followers (and most likely you reading this) are looking for information that’ll help you return to exercise and help your body recover after giving birth.

I asked my trusty Women’s Health Physio (WHP), Madison Cutmore for her guidance on how to return to common exercises, just like running or the FHIT program.

Exercise has countless mental and physical benefits for new mums, however it’s important that the process of returning to exercise is guided, tailored and graduated.

Running is often an accessible exercise option (just like the FHIT program!) for many women postnatally and due to the highly repetitive and demanding nature of the sport it’s even more important that a women’s health physio (WHP) guides the return to run process. This will help get you on track and keep you there!

To get you back to exercise safely, a WHP will:

  • Graduate your return​. We often see postnatal women return to exercise too quickly once they’ve been given the ‘all clear’ by their GP. They often do too much too soon, however, the biggest key to injury prevention is load management. To graduate your return your WHP will not get you back to your prenatal level week one; instead they’ll start with short intervals with lots of rest time, and gradually decrease rest times as your capacity builds.
  • Prescribestability exercises​, which are essential in keeping you injury free! Pregnancy weight increases and shifts load in your body, alters your posture and changes the biomechanics at your back and pelvis. Lumbopelvic stability is especially important when returning to running as you require hip control with every single leg movement. Exercises to train this include banded squats and toe taps, core control and coordinating proper core/lumbar/glute motor patterning.
  • Prescribe ​resistance exercise​. Strength training has been proven to decrease injury and improve running economy and performance. Combined with your FHIT training, common strength fundamentals for runners include heavy deadlifts, squats and calf raises.

We want to get you running and keep you running; by making sure you progressively increase your load and complement your training with stability work and strength training, you’ll run better, for longer and most importantly without getting injured.

So there you have it. If you’re super eager to get back into exercise (just like I am!), it’s important to remember the risks and to take things slow. I’m so grateful I have Madison by my side to coach me through it.

If you haven’t already seen, I’ve also just released FHIT-natal, a pregnancy workout guide. The post-natal workouts are still a work in progress until I’ve had the okay from my doctor to start exercising again, but stay tuned – they’ll be arriving soon enough!

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