There is a lot to consider with this topic! I think this a lucky time to be alive, with more and more information coming out about what we can do during pregnancy! But, there is a long way to go and gaps in information definitely exist. We have to approach the issue on an individual basis, from multiple facets.
First and foremost, we consider the recommendations and restrictions from the OBGYN or midwife. They consider past medical history, fetal growth, issues with the uterus and cervix. and other possible medical reasons to restrict exercise.
Once there is approval from the physician, be attentive to new symptoms. New symptoms such as pain that doesn't settle after a run, urine leakage, heaviness in the pelvis, etc, indicate talking to your physician, and possibly a good time to switch to a different form of exercise. Otherwise, it depends! In the clinic, I like to see women every few weeks to monitor how the movement patterns are keeping up with the changes happening with the pregnancy. Some of the changes we watch are:
Pelvic floor and breathing: Can your pelvic floor and diaphragm adapt, and continue to manage the pressures in your core? Or is it too much load on the pelvic floor that could lead to issues?
Glute control: Yes, the pelvis is widening to make room for that baby! Are the glutes keeping up with the tougher task of controlling a wider pelvis, which keeps things like back pain and knee pain managed?
Alignment and ability to manage changes in posture: Increasingly, there is a lot more weight out in front! Your structure amazingly adapts to this to keep you from falling over, but we also need it to be able to handle the demands of running.
Muscular control of movement with increased ligament laxity: Increased relaxin in the system means all ligaments have more stretch, which can lead to injury if the muscles aren't able to work harder to stabilize.
With these changes monitored, and watching out for indications to stop, the length of time that women can continue to run varies. Some find that they simply don't have the stamina to enjoy it early on, others are able to run throughout pregnancy. Having a team of medical professionals who understand your goals, and can guide you safely through the process, gives you the potential to run for a long time.
As always, this blog is intended as general information only. Do not subsitute for medical advice. If you are experiencing issues, consult with a medical provider.
For the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Committee Opinion on exercise during pregnancy and contraindications, click here.
Jill Heath is a licensed physical therapist and owner of She PT, LLC. She received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy and B.S. in Exercise Science from Northern Arizona University. During years of practice helping individuals of all ages recover from a variety of conditions, she developed a passion for working with women. She opened She PT, LLC with the purpose of meeting not only the unique physical needs of women, but also empowering women to take charge of their well-being by making care accessible.