How to return to running after becoming a mum

Authored by Olivia Clarke.

With the running season in full swing, we need to turn our attention to new mothers who are wanting to return to running after giving birth. New research has been published which outlines the safe return to running postnatal. Olivia Clarke, Northern Sports Physiotherapy Clinics physiotherapist, with a special interest in women’s health has summarised the new guidelines.

So you’re a new mum and you’ve settled into a routine and are keen to get back into running?

So what next? How fast do you progress the run? How do you prevent ongoing prolapse or incontinence symptoms?

Running is a high impact exercise that places high levels of load on the body. Recent research states that in order to maximize your postnatal recovery that only low impact exercise should be carried out in the first 3 months and running should start between 3-6 months postnatal.

This is a generalised guideline and is also affected by the following risk factors:

  • <3 months postnatal
  • Hypermobility
  • Breastfeeding, especially timing of breastfeeding with runs
  • Pelvic floor or lumbopelvic dysfunction
  • Obesity, BMI >30
  • C-section or perineal scarring
  • Relative energy deficiency in sport
  • Diastasis rectus
  • Sleep deficiency

In addition to this, women should not have the following symptoms when return to running, unless instructed by a specialised physiotherapist or doctor:

  • Prolapse symptoms such as vaginal heaviness or dragging
  • Incontinence or leaking urine
  • Pelvic or lower back pain
  • Ongoing blood loss that is not linked to your cycle

The return to running criteria can be assessed via a vaginal examination and functional testing:

  • Pelvic floor strength, speed of contraction and endurance
  • Able to complete functional exercises: walking, single leg balance, single leg squat, jogging, bounding, hopping
  • Able to complete specific strength exercises with good technique: single leg calf raises, single leg bridging, single leg sit to stand and side lying abduction

Ideally, return to running should be done via a graduated loading program which can be given to you by your physiotherapist. They can also advise you about additional support items which can make the return easier such as supportive clothing or a pessary.

If you require a postnatal assessment or simply need information relating to return to exercise with pelvic floor issues then call 9901 400 to speak to us today.

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