The miracle of life can wreak havoc on women's workouts. Experts say running styles can change dramatically after giving birth, resulting in more injuries and less benefit. But a running clinic designed especially for moms is helping women get back on pace after pregnancy.
Suited up with sensors Liz Hrodey hits the treadmill to get her pre-pregnancy running form back.
"I ran all through high school, all through college and post-college," says Liz Hrodey.
But after having two babies things were different.
"I never felt right,” says Hrodey. “I had a lot of injuries, I literally zig-zagged down the roads."
Liz came to the mom running clinic to find out what was going on.
Clinic Director Bryan Heiderscheit says the problems in form lead to back, buttock and thigh pains as well as hamstring and Achilles injuries.
"It's not as if we're not seeing this in other individuals, but it's much more consistent in women following pregnancy," explains Bryan Heiderscheit the Director of the University of Wisconsin Runners' Clinic.
Abdominal muscles weakened by pregnancy that affect the pelvic bones are a major issue. Liz was given exercises specifically designed for her to strengthen them.
Bryan says there are things every mom can do to improve their running. First, don't expect to pick up where you left off before you were pregnant. He says six weeks after birth, start slowly and gradually build up. Next, shorten your stride
"You can reduce the load the body's incurring with running by just shortening your stride by about 5 or 10-percent," says Heiderscheit.
To do that, Bryan says figure out your current steps per minute by counting the number of times your right foot hits the ground while running 30 seconds and multiply it by four. Then, add five to ten-percent more steps. Use a metronome.
To make sure you're running at your new stride. Liz says it took her a while to get the hang of it. Since figuring out her problems, she's run multiple half-marathons and just finished her first full marathon.
Bryan says it's also important for moms to avoid bouncing while they're running. If you notice your eyes moving a lot, work on stabilizing them. It can decrease bouncing, which can lessen the load on your body while running.
Moms Running Clinic: Getting Back On Pace After Pregnancy
BODY AFTER BIRTH: You may think for women the hardest part physically of having children is the actual birth. However, women can experience all sorts of physical changes and problems after childbirth. After giving birth women may have swelling in the legs and feet, menstrual-like cramping, tender breasts even if you're not breastfeeding, and some women even develop thyroid problems in the first year. On top of all that, there is still a recovery period and women should ask their doctors before they start to have sex again or resume physical activity routines. Not only does the body change and women have added weight from the pregnancy, hormones also change affecting women's emotions and sometimes making them feel depressed. (Source: www.womenshealth.gov)
TIPS FOR POST-BIRTH EXERCISE: Even though the changes to a woman's body after childbirth can make it more difficult to do certain things, they can help themselves get back into their normal exercise routine with some of these tips:
1. Exercising regularly during pregnancy can give women a 'head start' when they resume their normal exercise routine after giving birth, so try exercising while pregnant.
2. Walking is a good way to start exercising again without pushing the body too far and the baby can come along.
3. Be aware of your resources. Even though the mom running clinic is in Wisconsin, some local community centers and health clubs offer postpartum (after childbirth) exercise classes that can specifically help mother's get back to normal exercise habits. (Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
MOM RUNNING CLINIC: The University of Wisconsin Health Sports Rehabilitation opened the Runners Clinic examine and treat running-related injuries or concerns. At the clinic physical therapists and physicians work together to evaluate and help patients; to address performance issues and running injuries the patient first receives history and running program review, a physical examination, video analysis of walking and running mechanics. Afterwards a treatment plan is developed if treatment is necessary, which could include therapeutic exercises, manual interventions, and guidelines for a progressive return to prior running levels. To specifically help moms returning to their running routine, the Runners Clinic is developing a two-pronged program in conjunction with the UW Health Spine Physical Therapy Clinic. So far the therapy seems to be successful in helping women get back into the swing of running without pain, after childbirth. (Source: www.uwhealth.org)
For More Information, Contact:
Bryan Heiderscheit, PT, PhD
University of Wisconsin Health Sports Rehabilitation