Hello from Ives & Christy
Our desire is that the ula and us blog inspires, educates, and provides practical tips and tricks to help you conquer your individual summits.
Are you ready to run mama? Before we dive into the strength test, I want to share that I am currently studying to obtain my Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist Certificate through Dr. Sarah Duvall's online course. Along with my ACE Group Fitness Certification, my hope is to add more knowledge to my arsenal so that I can empower women and mamas specifically with evidence-based research and tools needed throughout pregnancy and beyond. Being a mom of 1 (and hopefully more some day) I have learned both through my own personal journey and research that the perinatal population is severely under served. My passion for fitness and the pregnancy & postpartum journey is what led me to begin obtaining this certificate.
To give you a little insight into who I am learning from, Dr. Sarah has rehabbed thousands of women with pelvic floor issues, diastasis recti, SI joint dysfunction and low back pain. She is a doctorate and has over 19 years of experience in the health and wellness field. I chose to learn from her not only because of her experience, but also because of her evidence-based approach. My hope is to begin sharing more with this audience through blog posts and today I am going to equip you with three strength exercises to perform before beginning to run postpartum.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH RUNNING:
College is where I found a deep appreciation and love for running. I was not a college athlete, but it was the exercise that felt the most natural for me after dancing competitively in high school. Since, I have ran 4 marathons and more than a handful of half marathons. If you are interested in my marathon journey, check out my "Boston Bound" blog post, here. After I had my daughter a year ago, I wanted to get back into it as quickly as possible. With a birth injury, where I pinched my femoral nerves and lost feeling in my my legs from the knee down, I also lost a tremendous amount of quad strength and had to build strength before I could run again. I craved being able to hit the pavement, run outdoors, and sprint until I was breathless. In full transparency, I am still gaining strength as working full time and breastfeeding, plus being a new mama has made it hard to retain muscle on my naturally lean and lanky body. I have taught treadmill and strength based classes and also absolutely love to incorporate running intervals on the treadmill or outdoors in my personal workouts. I say all of this to get the point across that running strength is VERY important to me. I want to keep mamas (including myself) safe and we have to keep in mind that running is a single leg dynamic activity, so it takes a solid foundation of strength to run with correct form and without wreaking havoc on your Pelvic Floor... AKA compensating for lack of strength by putting too much pressure on the pelvic floor. If you haven't yet... do yourself a favor and go see a Pelvic Floor Specialist if you feel any pain during the below strength test or just as a safety precaution after giving birth even if you feel no pain. There was added pressure and whether you had a vaginal birth or a C-section, it's good to have someone check how your movement patterns have changed. Feel free to message me or comment below and I can recommend a PT in the Greater Seattle area!
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BUILD STRENGTH BEFORE RUNNING AGAIN?
Running is a plyometric movement and works the entire body. The muscles we are testing include the muscles that absorb the most impact when running and stabilize your pelvis to ensure the pelvic floor is not overworking. This includes:
BACK TO RUNNING STRENGTH TEST:
Let's get into it. If you are newly postpartum and wondering yourself whether you can start running, I want you to try these 3 very simple strength tests before hitting the pavement
Perform 30 of each of these exercises, on each leg. I will demo these moves on Instagram and save them to our highlights for future reference!
FORM TO CONSIDER WHEN PERFORMING THE ABOVE STRENGTH TEST:
When performing these exercises, make sure your knees do not collapse in, your hip does not collapse under one another, and you have good posture. If you cannot perform these moves without your knees and hips collapsing in and/or under, without good posture, or without taking a break it simply means you need to build strength before you begin running again.
If you are in this boat, I feel ya sister. It takes time if you lost muscle mass and I am here to tell you that you with patience and persistence you will be able to gain strength back. To give you a little motivation, I will remind you that I personally couldn't walk down the stairs without heavy assistance from a handrail for over 1 month postpartum and at 8 1/2 months postpartum I was able to PR (personal record) a half marathon which I couldn't have done without strength work prior or Ives pacing with me, thanks sista for being fast, fierce, and supporting my running goals!
WHAT IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO PERFORM THE STRENGTH TEST?
As noted above, if you are unable to perform these moves, more strength in the muscles that absorb the impact when running (muscles noted earlier) is needed. To begin building strength, you can perform the above strength test exercises 2-3X per week. Start with a rep amount you can perform with good form and add 1-2 reps each week until you can perform 30 of each. There are of course additional exercises that strengthen your running muscles that we can go into in a different blog post, but this a great place to start!
As always, if you ever feel pain during any of these movements or when you begin to run again, schedule an appointment with a local PT (Physical Therapist), who specializes in women's health and the pelvic floor. I recommend seeing a Pelvic Floor Specialist and PT to take a look at your movement patterns postpartum before beginning any workout routine.
Please note, we are all individuals and our needs vary. For healthy adults that are looking to get back into running postpartum, these exercises will help you determine whether you are ready to run again or if you need additional strength assistance and hopefully encourage you on your journey!
NEXT STEPS TO BUILDING MORE RUNNING STRENGTH:
In the next few weeks, I will also be sharing dynamic moves you can add to your workout routine to further aid in running strength, once you are able to perform the above strength test. Once it is complete, I will link it here. Please drop a note if you have any questions or comments about this subject! I would love to hear from you!