The Ultimate Guide to Running Postpartum [Plan Inside]

Running in Motherhood

Returning to running postpartum is a common goal for many new mamas. I bet you can’t wait to chase after that runner’s high again! I can relate and have felt the same way after all three of my babies. Yet, the anticipation of getting back to running after having your little one is often mixed with anxiety about safety and postpartum recovery.

You may wonder whether it’s the right time to get back to running, even if cleared by your doctor. You’re still adjusting to the changes in your body in the postpartum period and learning more about your pelvic health. There are just so many questions, and there’s a ton of conflicting advice and opinions out there. 

It’s essential to approach postpartum running with an evidence-based approach to ensure you stay healthy and strong.

As a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, I regularly work with women who want to return to running leak-free, pain-free, and symptom-free. Before becoming a mom, I was a sports medicine physical therapist who primarily treated runners. As a result, my approach exists in the unique intersection between sports medicine and pelvic floor physical therapy. 

Meet Anna Towne, a Pelvic Floor PT and the founder of Strong Core Mama.
I’m Anna Towne, a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, a mom of three, and a runner!

In this guide, I’ll explain the most important considerations you should keep in mind when it comes to postpartum running 🏃‍♀️

The Importance of an Evidence-Based Plan When Running Postpartum 

For many women, following the right running exercise program in the postpartum period comes with many advantages. As a runner, you probably can’t wait to hit the road and get back to doing what you love! 

Yet, returning to running postpartum without an evidence-based plan can backfire and cause more issues than benefits. To prevent injury and support your overall health, it’s essential to prepare your body and follow a running plan developed specifically for postpartum moms. 

When Can I Start Running Postpartum?

The traditional recommendation is to wait at least 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery before considering a return to running, and 8 weeks for those who had a cesarean section. However, as an experienced pelvic floor physical therapist, I don’t recommend new mothers follow this generic timeline.

Being “cleared” by your OB or midwife at 6 weeks postpartum doesn’t mean that you should start running immediately! Returning to running too soon post-baby can cause an increased risk of injuries and pelvic floor dysfunction (including pelvic organ prolapse).

All mamas have a different pregnancy and delivery, which will impact their return to running. This is why we should never follow arbitrary timelines like “everyone can run at 6 weeks postpartum!”. Instead of hitting the pavement running at 6-12+ weeks, you must do some intentional preparation and pelvic floor physical therapy. You can do this online without needing to see an in-person pelvic floor PT!

In this article, I’ll explain how you can build up your strength and pelvic floor muscles to train for running postpartum. While you may be excited to put your running shoes on and go for a run right away (trust me, I’m the same way! 👋) doing the right strength training and pelvic floor strengthening will help you run better and avoid injury in the long term.

Postpartum Running Plan (Created by a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist)

Here’s a postpartum running plan I recommend for postpartum athletes as a pelvic health physiotherapist!

0-2 Weeks: Rest

Focus on rest and recovery. Your body needs time to heal after childbirth. Even elite athletes and health and fitness professionals should take this time to rest instead of jumping into exercise right away! I teach how to build a strong foundation for your postpartum recovery in my program Strong Healing Mama!

2-6 Weeks: Breath, Core, and Pelvic Floor

After the 2-week mark, postpartum runners can start doing gentle breath, core, and pelvic floor exercises that’ll help you recover faster after giving birth. Focus on diaphragmatic breathing, gentle core exercises, and other pelvic floor strengthening exercises. 

If you’re noticing some abdominal separation postpartum, check out my blog post on healing diastasis recti

6-12 Weeks: Core and Hip Strength

To safely return to running, you need to build up your core and hip strength first. In my program Strong Core Mama, I share exercises and practices that will help you heal diastasis recti, strengthen your pelvic area, eliminate postpartum back and hip pain, and eventually get back to high-impact exercise. This step is essential! Doing a high-impact sport like running postpartum without building up the strength in your core and hip first can trigger injury and pelvic floor symptoms. 

12-18 Weeks: Single Leg Strength and Plyometrics

Running is a HIGH impact single-leg activity. You hit the ground at 250% of your body weight in downward force. You need to retrain your body for impact BEFORE you start running again.

During this time, focus on building single-leg strength and then introduce plyometrics. Single-leg exercises like a single-leg squat and a single-leg hop are great for postpartum runners. 

You should also focus on rotation exercises because we lose a lot of rotation in pregnancy and we need to be able to rotate for running. I share dozens of my favorite exercises to safely return to running postnatal in my program Strong Running Mama.

As you do your exercises, watch for yellow flags, such as pain on one side, pelvic floor heaviness during or after exercise, leaking, or any bleeding. If you notice any discomfort, scale back your activity levels as you continue to gradually increase your strength postpartum.

Safe Postpartum Return to Running Checklist

So, how do you know if you’re ready to return to running postpartum? To determine if your body is ready to resume running, you should be able to perform the following without pain or pelvic floor issues:

  • Walk Continuously for 30+ Minutes
  • Single Leg Squats (20+ reps on each side)
  • Single Leg Bridge (20+ reps on each side)
  • Single Leg Calf Raise (20+ reps on each side)
  • Jog in Place for 1+ Minute
  • Forward Bounds (10+ reps on each side)
  • Single Leg Squat Jumps (20+ reps each leg)
  • Plank Hold (1-minute front plank, 30 seconds side plank)
  • Mountain Climbers (30 seconds)

I also have a handy checklist you can download and print out to check if you are ready to get back to running safely!

Checklist for returning to running postpartum.

If you experience pain, bleeding, urinary incontinence (leaking), pelvic floor heaviness, or other warning signs during these activities, it’s your body telling you that you need more time before you return to running postpartum. 

If you feel strong & healthy and can pass all of the items on the list, then you are ready to start your postpartum running plan. 

Postpartum Running Plan for Mamas

Once you pass the Return to Run checklist above, it’s time to grab those running shoes and start following the postpartum running plan below! It may feel slow at first but focus on making steady progress instead of pushing yourself to do too much too soon (speaking from personal experience, many moms are guilty of this!). 

Sample plan to return to running postpartum.

The Importance of Form When Running Postpartum

Proper running form is essential to prevent injury, reduce pelvic floor symptoms, and support your body when returning to running. If you’re experiencing leaking or pain when running postpartum, you can often improve that with some key form adjustments:

  • Smaller Strides with Increased Step Cadence: Reduces pressure on the pelvic floor and decreases the chance of injury in the back, hips, and “down the chain” of the leg. 
  • Slight Lean Forward: Positions the bladder correctly and supports pelvic floor engagement. This also makes you able to use your “posterior chain” with running so you can use your glutes and hamstrings more effectively. 
  • Stacked Posture (Rib Cage Stacked Over Pelvic): Avoid rib flare and be able to access your core and hip muscles properly. 

These posture adjustments are low-risk running changes that you can make to decrease pelvic floor symptoms AND hip/back/knee pain! Making small tweaks to your running form can make a huge difference. As you get back on the road and start running again, make sure you pay attention to your form to minimize risk factors.

Peeing While Running Postpartum

Many women experience peeing while running postnatal, but you don’t have to accept this common symptom of pelvic floor weakness as your new normal. Instead, you can heal pelvic floor dysfunction with pelvic floor exercises. And I don’t just mean Kegels. In fact, Kegels are often the OPPOSITE of what runner moms need to be doing!

It IS possible to run leak-free with proper education and muscle training. I share the best pelvic floor exercises in Strong Core Mama.

Pelvic Pain After Running Postpartum

If you experience pelvic pain after running postpartum, it’s a warning sign that your body is not ready to return to running yet. Instead of pushing it and running through the pain, rest and focus on resistance training to build up your strength postpartum.

While it can be frustrating to stop running when you really want to get back into it, it’s essential to modify your running program if you experience pelvic pain. In some cases, pelvic pain can be a warning sign of prolapse. If pelvic pain persists, go see a Pelvic Floor physical therapist in person, and try not to get too anxious. Prolapse can dramatically improve with pelvic floor physical therapy and it often doesn’t require surgery! 

Bleeding After Running Postpartum

Postpartum bleeding is normal for the first 4-6 weeks. If you still experience bleeding beyond the 6 weeks, follow up with your medical provider! 

You shouldn’t run if you’re still bleeding after childbirth. If you notice bleeding after finishing up your run, it’s a sign to stop and get back to building your core and pelvic floor strength. You should also get in touch with your medical provider. 

Female athletes can often disregard the bleeding, but it’s a sure sign to scale back your running intensity and duration. It’s essential to allow your body to heal in the postpartum period to come back stronger than ever 💪🏻

Breastfeeding and Running Postpartum

If you’re wondering if you can run while breastfeeding, the answer is YES! I’ve breastfed all three of my babies while returning to running and regularly work with runner moms who breastfeed. That said, there are a few adjustments you should consider to make it more comfortable.

Running after feeding or pumping helps you minimize breast discomfort and the feeling of having full breasts. Wear a high-quality, supportive sports bra to provide the necessary support during your run. You can find my favorite ones on my favorites page

It’s also important to stay hydrated and increase your caloric intake to meet your body’s needs and support both your physical activity and milk supply. On average, breastfeeding women need an extra 450-500 calories per day, but you should listen to your body and adjust your diet to satisfy your unique needs.

Running Postpartum: C-Section Edition

It IS possible to get back to running postpartum after having a c-section, but you might have to spend a longer time healing and rebuilding your core strength than after vaginal delivery.

Spend the first few weeks postpartum resting after childbirth and gradually ease into gentle breath, core, and pelvic floor exercises to accelerate your recovery. My Strong Core Mama program has a special C-Section Track to help you recover your strength if you had a cesarean birth!

Running postpartum with a stroller, woman pushing a stroller in front of her and has a stroller attached to her as well.

Stroller Running Postpartum

If you’re a runner mama who juggles multiple responsibilities at once, I introduce you to one of my best time-saving hacks: stroller running! I have three kids and they absolutely love coming along for my workouts, so I recommend this strategy to all busy mamas!

Stroller running is very convenient, but it requires proper form. Make sure you are leaning slightly forward with a relaxed back that can rotate and not standing upright with a stiff back that can’t move. 

Also, push the stroller with one hand while having arm and trunk rotation on the other side. Try to switch up which side you’re pushing/rotating with often!

Signs That You Should Stop Running Postpartum

Once you get back to running postpartum, you should continue to do your physical therapy exercises (core, pelvic floor, etc.) and gradually increase the intensity of your running sessions. However, remember to listen to your body. You should stop running postpartum and get in touch with your medical provider if you experience any of the following signs:

  • Pain: Any pain in your joints, pelvis, or lower back.
  • Heaviness or Dragging Sensation: Can indicate pelvic floor issues.
  • Leaking or Incontinence: Persistent or urgency urinary incontinence during the run or immediately after you finish.
  • Bleeding: Any unusual or increased postpartum bleeding.

While these signs can be frustrating, giving your body adequate time to heal and build strength is important. The more time you spend building your strength foundation, the easier your return to running postpartum will be. I teach you how to do this in Strong Running Mama! 🤩

Staying Healthy When Running Postpartum

Running postpartum takes some adjustments, but getting back into it can be extremely rewarding to postpartum mamas. I’ve helped hundreds of mama runners heal postpartum and return to running symptoms-free and injury-free, and I know that it’s possible for you, too!

While doing the core, hip, and pelvic floor exercises in the first few weeks postpartum can feel boring and too slow, they’re setting you up for success in the months – and years! – to come so you can continue to improve your running and grow as a mama athlete. The time goes by MUCH faster than you think. In fact, I was able to run my first half-marathon 24 weeks postpartum with my 3rd baby!

Every mama’s timeline for returning to running and racing is different. Start by setting realistic goals and gradually work up to bigger ones. Finding a running community for support can make a huge difference, too. In Strong Running Mama, you can connect with other motivated postpartum runners and get personalized support from me. Whether you need encouragement or accountability, we’re here for you!


How soon after giving birth can you run?

The traditional recommendation is to wait at least six weeks after a vaginal delivery before resuming running, and 8 weeks if you had a cesarean section. However, as a pelvic floor physical therapist who has helped hundreds of mamas safely get back to running, I believe that standard protocols don’t work for most women and you need to follow an individualized checklist instead. I recommend starting with breath, core, and pelvic floor exercises to first recover after birth. Then, I recommend building up core and hip strength to prepare your body for high-impact exercise. Lastly, I recommend doing single-leg exercises and plyometrics and only resuming running if you can pass the items on this checklist for returning to running postpartum.

Is it safe to run 3 months postpartum?

It depends. Every mama’s timeline for returning to running postpartum is unique. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I don’t like to use arbitrary numbers to decide whether or not it’s safe to return to running postpartum. While the traditional recommendation is to wait at least six weeks after a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks after a cesarean birth before you return to running, I help my mama runners first build up their core, hip, and pelvic floor strength with physical therapy exercises and then use this checklist for returning to running postpartum to decide whether or not it’s safe to grab those running shoes and start with a run:walk plan!

What exercises should I avoid postpartum?

The postpartum timeframe is very broad. In the first few weeks after delivery, you should avoid doing high-impact exercises and movements that place excessive strain on your healing body, particularly the pelvic floor and core. Doing too much, too soon, and too fast can lead to injury and uncomfortable symptoms like leaking, pelvic pain, and bleeding as well as serious health conditions like prolapse.

High-impact exercise is not going to be off-limits forever! It’s just important to first build up your strength before returning to running postpartum, and that can take a few months. In my postpartum running plan, I recommend spending weeks 0-2 resting, weeks 2-6 focusing on the gentle breath, core, and pelvic floor exercises to heal after birth, weeks 6-12 on building up your core and hip strength, and weeks 12-18 on single-leg strength and plyometrics. Then, I use this checklist for returning to running to see if you’re ready to start doing high-impact exercise and running again!

Why does it hurt to run postpartum?

First things first: it shouldn’t hurt to run postpartum. If you go for a run after giving birth and it’s painful, it can be due to several factors related to the significant changes in your body after pregnancy and childbirth. Your pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, uterus, and bowels, are often weakened or strained, causing discomfort and pain. Core muscles, which are stretched and weakened during pregnancy, may not provide adequate support for your spine and pelvis. This can lead to back, hip, or pelvic pain. Perineal tears can also become uncomfortable.  If you had a C-section, scar tissue can contribute to tightness and discomfort.

This is why it’s so important to focus on rebuilding your core, hip, and pelvic floor strength before returning to running postpartum. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I have several programs that can help you heal & get stronger, depending on where you are in your postpartum journey. For early postpartum physical therapy, learn more about Strong Healing Mama. To rebuild your core strength, try Strong Core Mama (it has a dedicated cesarean track for my fellow C-section mamas!). For dedicated support when returning to running, join Strong Running Mama! 🏃‍♀️

Join Strong Running Mama: Program Led by a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

It IS possible to return to running after having a baby pain and symptoms-free. Whether you’ve been running your entire life or want to start now to get into running after becoming a mama, I show you how to safely get back to high-impact exercise in my program Strong Running Mama

This program is open to ALL levels of runners. I’ve worked with everyone from beginner runners to pro athletes, so you don’t need to run far or fast to join. It also comes with personalized support. You will be able to ask me questions to get more support on your postpartum running journey as well as connect with other active moms in the Strong Running Mama community. I can’t wait to see you inside!