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The Ugly Side of Running Postpartum

5 things you need to know before your first post-labor run.

The Ugly Side of Running Postpartum

So you were a runner before you were pregnant, and your growing belly slowed you down. Now that you’re six-week post-labor, your doctor is giving you the green light to resume all activities. What thrilling news. Running is a fantastic way to build cardiovascular capacity and strength, lose weight, and have some well-deserved “me time.”

But wait… It’s also a high-impact sport that involves your entire body, and you may want to give yourself a little bit more time to heal before lacing up and heading out. To help you understand why, here is the truth about running postpartum, and what you can do to get ready for your first postnatal run:

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  1. Pelvic floor weakness is common.

    What is it about? Both pregnancy and birth weaken and stretch the pelvic floor -- the sling of muscles that supports your bladder, bowel and uterus. Having a weak pelvic floor makes it harder to squeeze the muscles at the bottom of your bladder, and if you exercise before shaping it back up, you may find that you leak a little wee.

    What can you do about it? In France, pelvic floor rehabilitation is mandatory and covered by insurance. It isn’t the case in the US, but you can (and should) do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles soon after birth.

  1. You may have diastasis recti.What is it about? Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles and the thinning of the tissue connecting them. This condition, which can result in a gaping hole, is common among new moms. It needs to be checked for, and you should bring those muscles back together to prevent further separation. What can you do about it? Your personal trainer, doctor or midwife should check for the condition. If the space between your left and right belly muscles is ½-finger wide, it isn’t severe. If it is 4-finger wide, your core is weak, and you may be at risk for developing hernias. One very effective exercise to strengthen your transverse abdominis (the deep core muscle) is “imprinting,” as you would do in Pilates. Or check out these core exercises.

  1. Your breasts can feel heavy or sore.What is it about? Whether you are nursing or not, your rib cage and breasts are larger and heavier than they used to be. The up-and-down bounce of running can make this condition worse. What can you do about it? Now more than ever, you want to invest in a good sports bra. It should provide support, be easy to put on and off, and allow for nursing, if needed. If you are breastfeeding, it should be breathable to prevent mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue that can occur when you sweat and compress your breasts and nipples. Here are our favorite bras: Title Nine , Shock Absorber , and Moving Comfort.

  1. Irregular bowel movements happen.What is it about? New moms are notoriously plagued with constipation, and running can help loosen things up. But it can be difficult for your gut to adjust to the running motion, and you may end up having that infamous run with “the runs.” What you can do about it? Make sure not to eat too much and wait a little while before pounding the pavement. You’ll also want to fuel up on foods that are easy to digest and that can rev up your engine. Try to snack on a banana, toasts with peanut butter, or oatmeal.

  1. Postpartum can come with flat feet and swollen lower legs.What is it about? With a baby born, come swollen legs and a different shoe size. The weight that women gain during pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on their feet and can cause the arch of the foot to flatten. What can you do about it? The good news is, it’s a great excuse to go (running) shoe shopping. Before you start running again, get fitted for a good pair of running shoes with ankle and arch support.

Congratulations on running again. It’s such a great way to relax and get back in shape. But remember, getting back on the trail is a marathon, not a race. So take a few precautions, and you’ll get your groove back in no time.

Photography by Justin Borucki for Well Rounded NY.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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