6 ways to get back into or start running postpartum


by Jamie Erwin, MD

May 7, 2023

If you’ve missed running the way you did before delivering your baby, it’s normal to want to hit the road and start feeling like yourself again. Or maybe you want to begin running postpartum as a healthy way to improve your overall fitness. Whatever your personal experience, here are some tips for getting back to running healthfully and safely.

1. Wait until you’re ready

It’s important to remember that the ‘right’ time to begin or return to running again will be individual to you. Postpartum recovery looks different for every mom, and talking with your doctor is always recommended if you have any concerns or questions about when to start any exercise regimen.

Typically, if you have had a vaginal delivery without complications (like wounds that have trouble healing or excessive bleeding), you can slowly get back into running about six weeks postpartum. If you’ve had a C-section, recovery can take a bit longer, so it’s generally recommended to wait 12-16 weeks postpartum before beginning exercises like running.

2. Take it slow

If you were a runner before getting pregnant, you may know that continuing running with modifications such as a slower pace or decreased mileage is often recommended. Similarly, beginning with some modifications before returning to your pre-pregnancy running routine is also advised.

As you begin to run more regularly, you’ll want to take things slower than you might be used to. Your physician can help you develop a personalized running schedule, but in general, walking, then jogging in intervals, then running is a gradual way to get back to your normal fitness routine. Also, remember that adding strength training for your core and pelvic floor is also part of a successful plan while incorporating exercise postpartum.

If you weren’t a runner before getting pregnant, you can still become one! Anyone can be a runner, so don’t place limits on yourself. The important thing to keep in mind is that creating small, achievable goals is a great place to begin your running journey.

Try walking with jogging intervals that progress in difficulty such as:

  • Start with a one-minute jog with two minutes of walking for 15 minutes.
  • Progress to 20-30 minutes of intermittent jogging and walking.
  • Decrease the walking interval, with one-minute of jogging and one-minute of walking.
  • Slowly decrease the walking interval and increase the jogging interval until you’re jogging more consistently than walking.

You know your body best, and you get to decide what is right for you. While it can sometimes feel difficult to incorporate movement postpartum, try to keep the perspective that moving your body is an act of self-love, not torture.

3. Remember all the benefits of running

Aside from getting back into your pre-mom routines, there are, of course, excellent physical health benefits to running, such as improved cardiovascular health, strength and endurance training, and weight loss.

Another exciting benefit is that running can offer amazing mental health benefits through “sweat therapy.” Many people, moms and others alike, find that running is a great way to clear your head and boost your mood. It might even build your social connections and community if you join a running group that can offer friendship and accountability. Running communities are often incredibly welcoming and encouraging, and there are even groups specifically for moms.

4. Listen to your body

While tiredness and some soreness might occur as you incorporate running again, pain is your body’s way of telling you to slow down, back down or rest. Sometimes pain can also be a sign that working on building strength, flexibility or getting better nutrition might be needed.

To avoid unnecessary pain, consider going to a running store to get fitted and measured for good shoes. They are worth the investment and can help prevent injury.

5. Make time for rest

Recovery is also a crucial part of running, and sleep is one of the best ways to recover. Getting rest with a newborn can be difficult, so give yourself grace throughout your recovery—it’s okay to get some shut-eye instead of going on a run when your body needs it!

6. Be patient

Finally, be patient with yourself. Negative self-talk is something we all can fall prey to, but imagine giving yourself the advice you might give a best friend—you would probably be much more kind and encouraging to her than you are to yourself.

You just spent 40 weeks or so giving life to your little one, so giving yourself at least that much time is important while you’re getting back to where you want to be. Just like all exercise, nothing happens overnight, but you’ll see the payoff with small changes and celebrating the small victories: they’ll add up over time. You’ve got this!

If you have any questions as you recover postpartum, we’re here for you. Make an appointment with your OBGYN or find one near you.

About the Author

Jamie Erwin, MD, is an OBGYN on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth.

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