Saturday, May 26, 2012

A little postpartum core and running experience and advice

  I have come back to competition very quickly with each of my babies.  A few examples, I did a trail 8k 5 weeks after one baby, an open water sprint tri 7 weeks out, ran the St George Marathon 5 months after my last baby.  I was more cautious with my return to running after our 4th baby though because of the anemia I suffered because of hemorrhage and the fact that because of some really rough pubic symphysis pain, I stopped running all together in November.  So I basically took 5 months completely off of running.  Yes I still rode hard and swam, but it's not the same. I totally support cross running (obviously) but the impact of running has to be respected, the impact to my pelvis after having a baby and conditioning my muscles again.  I run in Altra foot shaped Zero Drop cushioned shoes and have workout history and cross train, so I don't worry about impact to my leg joints.  Someone just getting into running of course would want to watch the impact to their joints.  Programs like couch to 5k are a great resource for direct guidance in a very gradual program.

Core is another thing to strengthen after baby as it plays a huge role in everything we do, running included.  A quick note on core, any movement you do that causes a budge in the middle of your stomach where the abs have separated (as mine have) is a bad core strengthener.  I have to be very cautious with leg lifts from the floor and planks.  Any movement you do, focus on contracting and pulling the abs into the back and keep the belly flat to strengthen the very important transverse abdominals.

Anyway, I started running about 4 weeks postpartum and I realize that doesn't sound like very long to most people, but I started a lot smaller.  I was doing run/walk intervals for several weeks and didn't run 3 miles straight until 6.5 weeks and built up to a 10 mile long run (with 2 other shorter runs during the week) by 12 weeks.  The lesson here was that even though I could maybe have gone out harder and longer and sooner as I have in the past, I wanted to be safe. 
The last piece of education here I'll give is what my midwife of my 2nd child said.  She said that the best time to heal and strengthen the pelvic floor is right after baby.  The pelvic floor is responsible for preventing 'leaks' from urinary incontinence and holding the bladder and uterus in their proper positions and to not prolapse. I'm not a personal trainer but I've looked into resources for myself.  Some things I've done are kegals, reverse crunches and hip bridges as well as general aerobic activity.  Walking and running are great, gradual running.  Doing too much too soon too fast won't help, it will probably in fact hurt you.  If the pelvic floor isn't healed and strengthened well initially, it may not heal as completely later.  I have had 4 kids, 3 of them very big kids (9.5-10lbs).  I want to be active and competitive the rest of my life even if it's just with me, so I will take the time now to heal up well.

1 comment:

Stan said...

Wow Leslie, you are amazing! I, for one, am very glad that men can not have babies; I don't know how you do it.

I do know, however, how tough it is not to run especially when your body is screaming at you to stop and take a few days (week, months, etc) off.

Good on you for listening to your body. Keep up the activity and the blogging. I really enjoy reading your updates.

And yes, Altra shoes are awesome. Between them and my Inov8s, I have the two best running shoes in the planet. :)