top of page

Navigating the Return to Running After Giving Birth: Prioritizing Recovery, Pelvic Floor Function and Strength Training

Martine Chiasson running outside on the pavement with a turquoize background and wearing a pink sweater and black leggings.
Navigating the return to running after giving birth.

Welcoming a new life into the world is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful yet challenging experiences, but it also brings significant emotional, physical and hormonal changes to a birthing person’s body.

Among the rollercoaster of adjustments, returning to movement and exercise, like running after giving birth, requires a well designed and intentional plan. It's a journey that requires rest, recovery, pelvic floor health, and progressive strength training, all while navigating the intricate demands of caring for a newborn, family dynamics, and a shift in identity.

Most of all, it requires patience and self-compassion.

In this blog post, we'll explore how mothers can safely resume running postpartum, ensuring they prioritize their well-being every step of the way.

The Importance of Rest & Recovery for Running After Pregnancy.

Okay, here’s my honest opinion… Rest and recovery are non-negotiable components of returning to any type of exercise after giving birth. It’s important to consider the toll that pregnancy and childbirth has on the body, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

Obstetricians typically recommend waiting six weeks postpartum before engaging in strenuous exercise, but I’m not one to give specific timelines in terms of rest & recovery or return to exercise because there are so many factors that play an important role in determining whether one is ready to return to physical activity, such as these:

  • Type of delivery (vaginal, assisted, cesarean)

  • Episiotomy or tearing

  • Length of labour

  • Length of pushing

  • Pains and discomforts

  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Support

  • Mental Health

This being said, it’s important to not rush into high-impact activities like running before allowing the body sufficient time to heal and get physically stronger. The most recent evidence-based return to running recommendations emphasize that women should wait until at least 12 weeks (3 months postpartum) before returning to running.

In the early weeks of postpartum, gentle movements like breathing, Kegels, core contractions and mobility exercises can feel really good while still honouring the body’s healing process.

If you experience pain, bleeding, or excessive fatigue, it's a sign to slow down and give yourself more time to recuperate and speak with your medical provider.

Pelvic Floor Health: Strengthening Your Foundation for Postpartum Running Success

Martine Chiasson jumping with right foot forward into the air while outside against a white background and pavement
Strengthening Your Foundation for Postpartum Running Success

Pelvic floor function is impacted by pregnancy and childbirth, which can lead to issues like urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, Diastasis Recti or pelvic pain. The pelvic floor muscles play a pivotal role in providing support to the pelvic organs, maintaining continence (aka, not peeing your pants!), and stabilizing the pelvis during movement and exercise.


Running and high impact exercise that require landing on one or both feet, requires the pelvic floor to absorb part of the ground reaction force that is created on impact (other muscles also help with this). This is why having a pelvic floor that functions optimally can be helpful in postpartum running and allow you to run more comfortably.

It's common for women to experience pelvic floor symptoms like leaking or pelvic pain during pregnancy and after childbirth. While these issues can be frustrating, they shouldn't stop you from returning to running. Instead, view them as feedback from your body that indicates the need for further pelvic floor rehabilitation and strength training. Incorporating Kegels and deep core activations as well as lengthening and relaxation exercises into your daily routine can help reestablish pelvic floor strength and stability, laying a solid foundation for your running journey. 

Consulting with a pelvic health physiotherapist can provide valuable guidance on exercises to strengthen and restore function to these muscles and empower you to pursue your running goals. Additionally, reaching out to a postpartum fitness specialist (Hi, it’s me LOL) for specialized exercise programming and support can ensure your return to running is as smooth as possible.

Strength Training: Building Resilience for Running After Giving Birth

To me, strength training is *chef’s kiss * and the ultimate superstar to building a strong foundation and helping you get back into jogging after giving birth.

I recommend *at least * 6-12 weeks of strength training and a visit with a pelvic health physiotherapist, if available to you, before hitting the pavement. This gives you adequate time to focus on building full body strength and practice specific running exercises.

*this recommendation is a general guideline


Something important to note is that it is not recommended to “pick up where you left off” in your strength training routine. Pregnancy and childbirth causes changes in posture, muscle activation patterns, and overall muscle strength, which can affect running mechanics and increase the risk of injury and those pesky pelvic floor symptoms to show up midway through your run. A simple way to get started is to begin with bodyweight exercises and gradually incorporate resistance training as your strength improves.

Engaging in a progressive strength training program targeting major muscle groups, including the core, glutes, hips, and legs, can enhance running performance while reducing the likelihood of overuse injuries. 

I recommend resistance training 2-3x per week with focus on full body strength. We want the muscle groups involved in running to be able to help absorb the force created on impact and so it’s important to include both bilateral and unilateral movements. An example for a bilateral movement could be a Squat whereas a unilateral exercise could be a Reverse Lunge, the latter working one side of the body at a time and imitates running in this way.

This exercise below, The Reverse Lunge with Rotation, is a favourite of mine because it works unilateral strength in the lower body while also working the core with a rotation in the upper body. Trust me, this one is a full body experience LOL!

Running : Start Slow, Build Endurance and Run with Confidence

Once you've allowed your body to recover from childbirth, have addressed pelvic floor and core issues and have been actively strength training for 6-12 weeks, you're ready to give running a try.

Returning to running after giving birth requires a gradual approach to prevent overexertion and injury. Begin with a combination of running followed by walking intervals, allowing your body to adapt to the demands of running postpartum.

Start with short intervals of running (30 seconds to 1-minute) followed by longer periods of walking. As your fitness improves, we recommend gradually increasing the volume before the intensity (e.g. running distance/time vs speed). Following a running program is a really great way to progress towards a goal, while still controlling the volume and intensity of your runs and taking the guessing game out of the equation.

But, What If You Still Pee Your Pants While Running?

This is a question I often get from clients and the answer is that progress is often not linear. You may have followed each of these steps and still find yourself leaking while running, or feeling this downward pressure during or after your runs. I know this can be frustrating and discouraging and I want you to know that your pelvic floor symptoms do NOT define you, nor reflect whether you are doing the "right" things.

It also doesn't indicate that you need to stop running or strength training.

If this is something you're experiencing, I invite you to get curious and see this feedback from your body as valuable information. Information that we can use to modify your strength program or make adjustments to your running plan, as well as exploring sleep, stress and pelvic floor function.


What I hope you take away from this blog is that returning to running after giving birth IS possible. The key is to allow your body to rest and recover adequately, while addressing pelvic floor function and building progressive strength so that when you hit the streets, your body has a strong foundation to support you on your running journey.

And if you need that extra motivation and support, I'm offering an online 4-week Running Strong Class very soon. We'll be focusing on pelvic floor, power and strength so that you can feel strong and confident hitting the pavements this summer. You can click HERE if you're interested.

Happy Strength Training!


Martine Chiasson, Certified Kinesiologist (M.Sc) - Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Specialist


bottom of page