Runners like to run. For a lot of pregnant women (though some women are secretly excited by the prospect of 40 run-free weeks), pregnancy presents the mental challenge of dealing with significant body changes while also being told to stop running – the one thing that has kept them sane in the past.
So, if you are devastated by the thought of not running for the next nine months… What should you do?
As physios, the biggest thing we educate women on is the importance of preserving your pelvic floor during pregnancy. This is done through a thorough, graduated and personalised pelvic floor training program but also by monitoring and controlling the load and force through your pelvic floor. Running is a great form of exercise and we encourage women to keep running. However, there is definitely a point during pregnancy when the impact on the pelvic floor becomes significant and, in the interests of doing no harm, the risk of causing ongoing weakening or damage is enough for us to encourage our pregnant mums to try alternate exercise for the rest of their pregnancy.
For a lot of mums these are harsh words to hear. To moderate this blow, our biggest advice to expectant mothers is to treat their pregnancy like an offseason for their running.
You know those rehab exercises or that strength work you always mean to do but never seem to get around to doing? Now’s the time. It is your perfect chance to get on top of all of your niggles, strengthen your weaknesses and position you in a great place to return to running postnatally.
This will look different for every mum but typically it looks like working with your local physio to finally get those niggles sorted, working on things like isolated glute strengthening, single leg stability exercises, calf work and general strength work in combination with some crosstraining to maintain fitness. It’s also a great opportunity for planning and goal setting.
So don’t be disheartened. Start thinking of pregnancy as an offseason; think of it as an opportunity to not only preserve your pelvic floor but give you time to work on your goals, your rehab and set the foundations for you to return to running postnatally, better and stronger than before.
Madison is a Physiotherapist passionate about helping mums understand their bodies, move efficiently and return to running and exercise safely. You can find her at iMove Physio.