If you were a runner before becoming pregnant... and running still feels beneficial to you throughout your pregnancy. We support that!
I recently did a deep-dive educating myself on this subject. I came across this interesting study that surveyed female runners before their pregnancy.
Quick disclaimer-I always like to be clear about the sample size in studies.
This one included:
The women in this study were, on average:
Their competitive levels ranged from recreational to elite. 1/3 of these had been nationally ranked at some point.
1. Due Date
Women who run throughout their pregnancy typically deliver 5-7 days early.
2. Be Aware
Peeing on yourself while you run--even when pregnant-- is not normal. Running while pregnant does put increased pressure on the pelvic floor. Which can predispose you to symptoms of incontinence. Both while pregnant and postpartum (short and long term).
3. Manage the Pressure
Establishing a healthy core and pelvic floor is all about managing the pressure in your abdomen. Some modifications to consider if running while pregnant are:
Avoid steep inclines/declines
Avoid pushing another child in the stroller
4. Shifting Center of Gravity
Your baby pulls your center of gravity forward
5. Your Shoes
It’s advisable to purchase 2 pairs of your favorite running shoe. Alternate pairs every other run. It can take shoes up to 48 hours to regain their optimal shock-absorbing potential after a run
6. Keep Your Intensity In Check
You want to keep your intensity at a “moderate” level. This means you should be able to carry on a continual conversation while you run.
7. Avoid These Common Running Mistakes.
That’s a Youtube link for a video I made about this while in PT school.
8. Reframe Your Training Goals
Pregnancy is not a time to set PRs
9. Let Someone Else Push The Stroller
If you already have a kiddo in the stroller, let someone else push it, if and when you can, while running. Pushing the stroller takes away your ability to use your arms to help propel you forward. This helps decrease ground reaction forces.
A 2018 international study of 1293 female runners concluded:
If running starts to feel too draining or uncomfortable, it’s ok to temporarily switch to walking and/or swimming.
1. Use Your Arms
They can help you capitalize on the energy you’re exerting. You'll decrease the amount of force transferred through your pelvis to your back.
2. Lean Slightly Forward
This will also help your forward momentum. When pregnant, avoid stressing the ligaments around the front of your pelvis. We want to decrease your chances of getting plantar fasciitis. This happens when too much pressure is put on your heels.
3. Point Your Toes
Point them forward and, slightly out to the side. We want to avoid in-toeing as it can strain your hips and the muscles that attach your hips to the pelvis.
4. Quicken Your Pace
It seems counter-intuitive. But our body actually works more efficiently, quickly. This goes for both walking and running. Walking quickly will help you avoid the “pregnancy waddle”. If running, the aim is to reach a cadence of 180 steps/minute.
5. Avoid Over-Striding
When running, you want your stride to be short. That way, it gives your body more chances to propel yourself forward. If you over-stride, it’ll cause muscle fatigue more quickly. Over-striding is like doing a lunge each step!
Both running and breastfeeding feel different for everyone.
In the study mentioned above, 84.1% reported running during breastfeeding. That said, I HIGHLY encourage you to channel your postpartum exercise motivation in a way that will help your pelvic floor heal.
Our bodies change so much during pregnancy. Even with these changes, there are better outcomes for women who exercise both before and during pregnancy.
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