Women’s Health PT – Frequently Asked Questions
“What can I do before birth to set myself up for a smooth return to running post-birth?”
One of the best ways to prepare for returning to running post-birth is to incorporate regular strength training during pregnancy. See below for what muscle groups to target!
– Monster Walks (Check out Emmi Aguillard’s tips for monster walks)
– Single Leg Squat (Video of Emmi Aguillard, PT, DPT, FAFS demonstrating proper form)
– All four belly lift (Video talking you through correct form)
– Engaging your core with BREATHING!
– Can you contract, relax, and lengthen your pelvic floor?
– Try to keep up the intensity – walk/run intervals may start to feel better at a certain point in your pregnancy
Don’t push it – if you aren’t feeling good, or having pain/discomfort – it is OK to modify or walk. Being kind to your body now can set you up for a smoother recovery postpartum.
“Should you exercise during pregnancy/when should you stop?”
Absolutely! In fact, it is highly recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Modifications may be necessary as you progress through your pregnancy but regular exercise/physical activity are extremely beneficial for pregnant women and have minimal risk.
➞ 150 minutes per week of aerobic and strength conditioning exercise at a moderate intensity.
✻If you were very active prior to pregnancy there is no reason to not continue with the same routine
✻If exercise is new then it is recommended to start out slowly and gradually increase the activity.
Every person has a different pregnancy experience and it is important to always listen to your body. Here are a few things to listen and feel for that may indicate it is time to decrease the intensity or modify the exercise:
- Leaking of urine during exercise
- Breath holding
- Pelvic heaviness or discomfort
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Fatigue, dizziness, or unable to hold a conversation
It is important to make sure to discuss your activity level & exercise routine with your obstetrician and other members of your healthcare professional team.
“Is running okay while I am pregnant? Any advice?”
If you were running pre-pregnancy, the answer is YES! Now is not the time to start, but as long as there are no specific contraindications (talk with your OBGYN), it can actually be beneficial to keep running during your pregnancy. Follow these few tips to help you stay active and feel good!
- Listen to YOUR body! It is constantly changing and won’t be the same as your other running friends or even the same week to week.
- Ditch the watch! Now is the time to run by how you feel, not by what Garmin says. It doesn’t matter how far you go, what your pace is, or even if you stop to walk! Just getting out and moving has so many positive effects on both you and your baby’s health!
- Embrace Intervals! As your pregnancy progresses and you are carrying more weight, our natural inclination is to slow down. This can actually result in decreased muscular engagement and form compensations, leading to more pressure on the pelvic floor. Try breaking their runs into walk/run intervals – for example, run 5 minutes at a slightly more uptempo effort, then walk 1 minute. This can improve the quality of your run!
- Get in the Pool! Now can be a great time to try out deep water running or aqua jogging – this is an amazing workout that will still give you that post-run endorphin kick, but without any impact on your body.
- Strength Train! Incorporating strength into your routine is imperative as your body is pumping relaxin, a hormone that causes increased laxity at your joints. Your body is more reliant on muscular strength and stability will help protect your joints from impact.
- Choose Your Route Wisely! As your pregnancy progresses, having a reliable place to use the bathroom is CRUCIAL!
- Listen to your body! if you are feeling pressure or pain in your pelvic floor, hip pain, or low back pain – pause your running and see your PT
“How do I know if I’m ready to start running again??”
First and foremost, we need to make sure that the body has healed from the delivery trauma, whether it was a vaginal birth or cesarean section. This will include the approval from your OBGYN to start exercising again. Amongst many things, that green light is usually a result of a healthy and healed C-section scar or signs of appropriate vaginal healing.
After the OK from the OBGYN, it is time to focus more on your pelvic floor muscles since they were majorly affected during childbirth. Start asking yourself if you can do the following activities without any pelvic floor pain or leakage:
- Standing and walking
- Controlling your bladder + bowels throughout the day
- Transferring from sit to standing (ultimately squatting)
From here, the focus can shift to the ability to engage certain muscles and be able to withstand a certain amount of load and force. Especially if running is the activity you want to return to. Are you able to do the following:
- Are you able to engage your core in all different positions (especially standing!)
- Are you able to engage all of the muscles of your hips (hamstrings, glutes, etc.)
- Can you put it all together and perform a squat with muscles engaged?
- Can you lunge? Can you single leg squat?
- Can you jump (two legs)?
- Can you hop (one leg)?
These are just general guidelines and every individual should be assessed and evaluated in order to make sure that their program works for where they are in their recovery. Having a PT to collaborate and work with can help you safely return to doing what you love!