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Best exercises to add to your running routine after having a baby

Going back to running postpartum is an exciting time, but it also is a little bit intimidating. In a previous post, I had talked about getting your body ready to return to run and that it is not just: you get the six week mark, you get the all clear, and you should head right back into running. You need to make sure that your body is ready to accept load. Beyond accepting load, there are other things that we need to consider and look at to make sure you’re prepared to go back to running, so we’re going to talk about some of the form changes that occurred during the pregnancy, that linger after pregnancy, and ways that you can address those.

Two different changes that happen throughout pregnancy: we have two small studies that show us that while you’re pregnant, our trunk rotation (the side to side movement, when we’re running) decreases, which is a good thing and is normal. As our bellies grow, it makes it harder for us to rotate, so that rotation while running goes down. Our pelvic motion from side to side increases during pregnancy. Both are normal changes, that should happen, but what the studies found when they looked at these women who were six to seven weeks postpartum, those changes were still there, even though we don’t have our bellies in front of us anymore. Those are changes we want to be able to address.

First addressing that trunk rotation: adding a trunk rotation to any basic strength exercise you’re already doing. For example, if I’m having someone do a split squat, we will just add a rotation to that where we reach and rotate that trunk, and then stand back up. You can also do that in a walking lunge. Once you get into doing single leg activities, you can also add trunk rotation into those. If we take a “running man”, for example, you would reach, hinge from those hips, and then as we drive that knee up, you’re also going to rotate that trunk. Any of the exercises that you’re already doing, you can take those and you can just add in some of that trunk rotation to start to get your body used to rotating through that trunk again.

The second form change that happens is that pelvis dropping from side to side. We want to address that, and we want to get rid of that lateral movement because we want to propel ourselves forward, not side to side. A few different ways you could work on that is getting on one leg. Running is a single-leg activity. Anytime I can get a woman on one leg, I want to. A good way to start with this is a Farmer’s March. You’re going to grab some weights and hold them in a farmer’s carry and turn it into a march, by lifting one knee up, putting it back down, and walking across the area holding weights. When you’re doing this exercise, and you’re standing on one leg, you’re really having to load through the side of your pelvis and stabilize similar to running. Other exercises I like to use include: if you have a band, you put a band around your ankles, and then standing on one leg, lifting that leg out to the side or monster walks, where you have a band around your ankles, and then you’re just sidestepping. So there are a lot of different ways you can work on your glute strength, but I think the most important thing for women going back to running postpartum is making sure you’re not just addressing that strength and your ability to accept load, you’re also thinking of these form changes that are happening and ways that you can help alleviate those.

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.