Postnatal Return to Running - The Screening Checklist!

Postnatal Return to Running - Am I Ready?

Mumma! Let’s get you running!

We hope you have read Part One of this series and have a good understanding of the changes that have happened to your body during pregnancy and why it’s so important to wait until you are at least 3 months to return to running.

Our Empowered Motherhood Return to Running Program is designed to help you to return to running safely and without leaking, pain or discomfort. We LOVE running and are all for it! But! We have also seen (and experienced) the complications that can arise when you return to running before your body is ready.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the EMP Return to Running Checklist workout that is included in our Return to Running Program and help you to decide whether your body is RUN READY.

The EMP Return to Running Checklist


How long should I wait before returning to running after pregnancy?

Taking into account all of the above physiological changes (not to mention the mental and emotional changes, lack of sleep and nutritional factors) the majority of women won’t be ’RUN READY’ until 6 months and some might not be ready until 12 months postnatal. 

However, as a general rule, we recommend that all women wait until 3 months postpartum for the reasons above (and below!).

Postnatal Return to Running - Am I Ready?

Before we go further we want to make sure that:

  • You are more than 3 months postnatal;
  • You don’t have any leaking or prolapse symptoms (a feeling of heaviness in the vagina);
  • You don’t have any ongoing moderate musculoskeletal pain (greater than a 3/5);
  • You can walk 30 minutes symptom-free (no heaviness, dragging sensation or leaking;
  • Your BMI is below 30 (if it’s above 30 this increases intra-abdominal pressure and places too much load on your PF, but we have so many other ways you can move your body safely within the EMP) ; and
  • Your stitches have healed well (either C-section or perineal stitches). 

If you answered YES to all of these questions - then let’s get running!

Postnatal Running - Is your Pelvic Floor Ready?

When you run, a well-functioning pelvic floor will activate and contract just before your foot hits the ground. It is an anticipatory reflex that, prior to pregnancy, you probably never thought about!

We know that in the postnatal period, generally, that pelvic floor reflex doesn’t work as well. Your pelvic floor might be a little sluggish or non-existent. Either way, the timing is off.

Step 1 of your return to running plan is to get your pelvic floor run ready. 

If your pelvic floor doesn’t contract the way it should - every time your foot hits the ground, you will have a force of 1.6 to 2.5 times your body weight going through a pelvic floor which is unable to handle it.

Before you run you should be able to activate your pelvic floor in standing as well as being able to do: 

  • 10 quick flicks
  • 10 x 6s endurance holds.
  • 60s sub-maximal PF contraction

If this doesn’t mean much to you, don’t worry we walk you through the whole process in our return to running program.

Postnatal Running - Are you Strong Enough?

The second stage of our EMP screening checklist involves Women’s Health Physio guiding you through a series of exercises you need to be able to do before returning to running. These exercises are designed to test:

  • Core strength and control; 
  • Glute strength;
  • Leg Strength;
  • Balance;
  • Proprioception;
  • Co-ordination; and
  • Your body’s ability to cope with impact.

Phewf! No wonder if feels more like a workout than a screening.

Some of the exercises you should be able to do before returning to running include:

  • 20 single calf raises
  • 10 single leg squats;
  • 60s jogging on spot without leaking or heaviness; and
  • 20 single-leg bridges.

Plus a range of other exercises to determine your readiness to run. If you can’t get through this part of the assessment, it doesn’t mean you can’t run, but that you need to take a little more time to build strength and control in certain areas. 

For this reason, we have included several running, core, and pilates workouts in your return to running program to support your safe return to running.

Postnatal Running - Can you react to impact? 

When you start doing our screening checklist and return to running workouts, you may have to think about engaging and lifting through your pelvic floor. But over time, the goal is to train this involuntary reflex so that you don’t have to think about it.

In this part of the screening checklist, we work through a series of high and low-impact movements to train the pelvic floor reflex. These moves build in intensity so that you can determine your current level and what you need to focus on.

I've passed the screening checklist! What's next?

Congratulations! You are ready to run! Check out our Return to Running Program for an 8 week guided return to running program including run-ready workouts, running plans, education, and support OR read the next post in this series for our running tips!

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