Q and A: How long can I keep running while pregnant?

Q: : I am just curious for your thoughts about how long I can keep running while pregnant. I have seen some of your posts on pregnant CrossFitters modifying workouts while pregnant. Some of my pelvic floor physio friends say to stop running at the latest when I am 16 weeks pregnant. I am currently 14 weeks pregnant with my second one. Thank you!

A: : Thanks for your question. There are a lot of variables to consider for both runners, cross fitters, or any athlete who wants to remain active during pregnancy. The most important thing is to monitor for symptoms, not which week you are in. If you are experiencing signs of intolerance to an activity that don’t respond to modifications to the activity NOW, you should stop (not wait for the 16th or 20th or 24th week). So that would be pain that doesn’t settle quickly post run (in any joint), heaviness in the vagina or pelvis, pressure, leaking, urgency, or painful sex. Particularly if any of those symptoms escalate during or after a run.. If you can, try to modify what you are doing (running form, speed or distance changes for example), to ease the symptoms. If they don’t improve to resolution…then you should switch to hiking or elliptical.

Generally speaking most of my patients tend to no longer feel awesome running or lifting heavy around halfway (give or take a few weeks) and they can no longer modify themselves away from the symptoms. So that is a signal to move to something with less impact.  If you are symptom free (pain, heaviness, leaks), had no problems with a return to running between pregnancies, carry small and super balanced, then you may be adapting well and you can keep running for longer (again no “week” guideline here). But honestly, my experience is that is more the rarity than the rule.

Sorry I don’t have a hard and fast rule. Instead, I prefer to look at function, movement efficiency and symptoms as a guide. I am more into monitoring. But halfway is usually about when I see the need to make changes (give or take a few weeks, and subsequent pregnancies often need modifications sooner). Also, you can still stay very active, it is just that impact piece that gets harder to accommodate for as you and the baby grow. And of course, please keep in mind precautions and absolute contraindications to exercise during pregnancy, noted here.

Hope that helps! Julie


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