by Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM MS
Staying healthy and fit during pregnancy is beneficial to both mom and baby with experts recommending at least 20 – 30 minutes of activity every day. Keeping on the move throughout pregnancy can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-term birth, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) and the need for a C-section.
One of the most common questions around fitness and pregnancy is “can I run when I’m pregnant”. The short answer is yes, however there are a few guidelines the new mom will want to follow.
Below are few of the most common dos and don’ts when it comes to running and pregnancy.
Do start slow, especially if you were never a runner before getting pregnant. All exercise is a stressor to the body so track your heart rate and be sure to stay well hydrated.
Don’t be scared about miscarrying if you run. Research has shown that running when pregnant does not increase miscarriage risk.
Do make sure to track temperature changes as extreme heat can potentially risky to the mother and baby. Wear loose clothing, stay hydrated and avoid running during the hottest times of the day.
Don’t skip out on post-run recovery. With fluctuating hormones and shifting nutritional requirements make sure to support the muscles post-run with stretching and foam rolling.
Do consider using belly support bands especially the further into pregnancy and if you feel like running with a growing belly is putting too much strain on your lower back.
Don’t forget to integrate pelvic floor exercises into your running program as the growing baby will start to put excess pressure on this important stabilizing muscle.
Do consider alternating running with speed walking if the running is starting to put too much stress on the body.
Don’t forget to have fun! Avoid the unnecessary pressure of maintaining running performance during pregnancy. This is a time for both you and your baby.
Whether you decide to run during pregnancy is a personal choice. Don’t feel pressured to continue your same running routine or to start running for the first time while pregnant. There are many ways to stay healthy and fit, the decision is yours to make.