It can feel intimidating to get back into a consistent exercise routine after having a baby. Your body goes through a massive amount of change during pregnancy and it takes time to restore your strength and endurance postpartum.
It’s also important to remember that it’s not a race — your body might feel different at the moment and that is to be expected. But, once you’ve been given clearance from your doctor to exercise again, we’ve created the ultimate returning to exercise after birth guide.
In fact, they created a whole program around returning to exercise in their KICBUMP postnatal Pilates sessions.
With the help of the KIC team, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about postpartum exercise, including how to approach returning to running and why postnatal Pilates can be incredibly helpful in regaining your strength.
Returning to running
The experts at KICRUN shared their top tips for returning to running after giving birth. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Get medical clearance first
Before you start hitting the pavement again, you’ll need to be cleared by your GP or obstetrician for exercise. This usually happens around six to eight weeks after birth but it doesn’t automatically include running.
It’s recommended that you build up your strength a little before jumping back into running.
Consider seeing a women’s health physio
Whether you had a C-section or a vaginal delivery, the experts at KICRUN recommend checking that your pelvic floor is recovered enough after birth to tolerate running, which is something a women’s health physio will be able to advise you on.
They might also suggest completing exercises that help strengthen this area before you start running and jumping. A postpartum exercise program, like KICBUMP, can be incredibly helpful in helping you move your body with exercises designed to support your postpartum body.
Focus on strengthening
Alongside your pelvic floor muscles, it’s important to make sure your calves, core abdominals and glutes are strong enough to jump back into your running routine. If you’d like extra support in this area, you can also see a musculoskeletal physio, who can help you work on these areas.
Take your time
There’s no need to rush this process and while it might be frustrating to feel like you’re starting at square one, remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
Listen to your body, take it slow and gradually build up your strength and endurance.
Don’t forget to warm up and cool down
Don’t skip this incredibly important step in your running routine. The warm up helps get your muscles ready for running, while the cool down relaxes these muscles and helps lower your heart rate.
If you want some extra tips and tricks on the best way to warm up and cool down, a run program like KICRUN has you covered.
While you might be itching to return to high intensity exercise, starting with a gentle approach after birth is recommended. A great way to do this is through postnatal Pilates, which can help you rebuild your strength and reconnect with your body through low impact exercises.
This is why the KIC team developed the KICBUMP program — to support new mums as they return to exercise. The program explores pelvic floor and core focused exercises as well as lower body and glute strengthening exercises.
There is also a focus on the middle back, side body, posture and mobilising exercises to help you feel stronger in your body. And, keep in mind that while Pilates might be less intense than running, you’ll still need to be medically cleared by your doctor to exercise.
There are so many benefits of taking to the Pilates mat and moving your body and here are just a few:
Whole body strengthening
Practising Pilates can help you build core strength, muscle tone and increase flexibility across your whole body thanks to exercises that focus on your alignment, breathing and core awareness. Pilates helps you create a solid foundation as you work your way back to exercise.
If you need a little abdominal support as you build up your strength, Kin's Belly Band is designed to do just that. With a two-layer wrap design, the Belly Band contains elastic velcro bands that offers compression where you need it most, helping support loose tummy muscles and a healing postpartum belly.
Belly binding is also safe for those who have had C-sections, as it can support incision healing and reduce swelling from surgery.
Pelvic floor strengthening
Your pelvic floor muscles are put through a lot of stress during pregnancy as they stretch to support your baby. And, the type of delivery you experience can also put further strain on this area.
This is why a large focus of the KICBUMP program is rebuilding the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and giving you awareness of this area.
Your posture can change drastically throughout pregnancy as the growing weight of the baby increases the curvature of the lower back.
Postnatal Pilates can help your body readjust and find its ‘neutral alignment’ again as you build strength. The KICBUMP program includes stretching and mobilising exercises to keep your spine feeling good.
When you’re a new mum, it can be difficult to carve out time just for you and this is where postnatal Pilates comes in. Taking time out of your day to honour your body with gentle movement is the perfect way to have some ‘you time’.
If you’re unsure about where to start with your exercise journey post-birth, please consider reaching out to a healthcare professional who can guide you through this process.
And, if at any time the way you’re moving your body doesn’t feel good, stop and take a break and reset.
For workouts, exercise tips and healthy recipes, head over to our friends at KIC.
Photo credit: Getty Images