I have a lovely client at the moment who is desperate to get back into running after her first baby and we are having lots of conversations about it. I feel that this is a really grey area because unfortunately there is not really a definitive answer as it is different for everyone – while some people might not experience problems when returning to running after a few months, others will need to wait for 6 months, a year and some even longer! One major thing you need to be aware of is that leaking is not OK! Do not assume that this is part and parcel of postnatal running – if you are leaking, you are overloading your pelvic floor and you need to up your pelvic floor exercise (this doesn’t just mean ‘kegels’) and adjust your running expectations.
The pounding motion of running has a high impact on the pelvic floor and the action of the heel hitting the ground with each stride can stretch the pelvic floor and connective tissues that have already been weakened by pregnancy and birth. When the stride is repeated again and again, the impact forces the pelvic floor downwards and if the pelvic floor is already weak you are setting yourself up for pelvic floor problems at some point, even if your body isn’t showing you the warning signs now.
My advice would be to go and see a Women’s Health Physio like Erica Lewis at www.hertfordshirewomenshealth.co.uk to get your pelvic floor function checked before you think about running again. Begin your postnatal exercise with low impact work such as Pilates, swimming and walking. If and when you do start running again, begin with slow, short jogs. The faster and longer you run for the more pressure you are going to exert onto your pelvic floor so take your time and build up to it so your body has time to adjust.