Should you run while pregnant? Whether you’re an avid runner or like to complete a couple of 5K’s a year, it’s important to understand that the pregnant and postpartum body can really change the game for the way our bodies handle a high intensity activity, like running.
The absolute first rule of thumb is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor is going to give you guidance about your specific pregnancy, and you may have an unique experience that would prevent some of the more strenuous activities. Always follow doctor’s orders!
Once you’ve received clearance from your doctor, I always recommend movement! There are SO many benefits to getting your heart rate up even for just a few minutes a day. The good and the bad news is, running is not “off limits”! However, there are a ton of cues that our bodies will give us that may make running harder the bigger we get or even right away. In my first pregnancy, I loved to run! I still do, but I had to give it up early on in pregnancy #2. It wasn’t because I’m not strong enough or I became de-conditioned, it’s because my body was cueing me that the impact of running was too hard on my pelvic floor and if I kept it up, I would continue to weaken it.
Let’s talk about a few of these!
Do you have the urge to pee while running?
Although an urge can definitely be normal, (as we are stimulating some muscles with running), we want to make sure that it is “justified”. Meaning, did we just empty our bladder and now we have a strong urge again? Have you drank a bunch of liquids between pee #1 and this strong urge? Do you try to pee and nothing happens? All of this can be a sign that there’s too much pressure on our pelvic floor and we’ll want to stop.
Do you feel a lot of pressure “down there” while running?
We shouldn’t really feel any discomfort or pressure into our pelvic region while running. If you stop, does the pressure alleviate? If you’re having any of these symptoms, running might be too strenuous for you right now.
Are you leaking at all?
This is one of the MOST common cues. So you’re not feeling the urgency or pressure, but when you come back in from a run you notice that you’ve peed your pants a little bit? This is a sign that the pelvic floor is weak and running may weaken it further.
I find the leaking a huge issue with postpartum mamas. We’re mostly told that “it’s just normal”, and kind of laugh it off and think it will eventually go away. The truth is, this is a HUGE cue your body is giving you that you need to address the pelvic floor and continuing to push through can cause a lot of damage and long-term issues. Trust me, I had to learn the hard way!
You may have all of these or just one, and this can happen during any repetitive movement, not limited to just running. Think hops, quick feet, walking on incline, etc. This may happen starting at 10 weeks pregnant, week 25, or you may not have any of these symptoms your entire pregnancy. Everyone is different and there is no one size fits all.
The GREAT NEWS?! It doesn’t mean you have to give up running forever, or even your entire pregnancy. It just means we need to address a few things, get your strength up and you can possibly return to running during pregnancy, the same goes for postpartum!
Studies even show that you can return to high intensity, long distance running faster and stronger postpartum when you adopt an exercise program with an emphasis in pelvic floor and deep core training. How cool is that?!
None of this information is here to scare you. I’m a big believer that knowledge is POWER! Understanding some of the things our body is telling us and taking action in a proactive way is the best thing we can do for our bodies.
Any questions? Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com!