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  • Functional Physiotherapy

Returning to exercise postpartum


Every tells you post-partum to take it easy and not do too much until your 6 week check! If you’re keen to get back into exercise here is a few tips on what you can be doing safely and what you should be avoiding!

Immediately after birth:

• Try to rest horizontally as much as possible for the first 6 weeks

(Particularly in the first 2 weeks).

This helps to heal the pelvic floor area, particularly if you have any stitches.

• Try to keep exercise to a minimum in the first 2 weeks.

Start with light walking within the first 2 weeks try to keep this to about 15 minutes. You can also focus on practicing switching on and off the pelvic floor.

• Pelvic floor exercises can start immediately after birth as long as there is no pain.

Start with gentle contract and relax exercises to build awareness of your pelvic floor muscles for the first 2-3 weeks.

Following this aim to build endurance starting with 2-5 second holds and build to 10 – 30 seconds over time.

Aim to do this 3 times per day and start to think about your pelvic floor as you move

throughout the day Example: getting up from a chair with the pelvic floor on and then relax the pelvic floor once you are up.

• From week 2-6 continue to work on pelvic floor and core muscles and start some gentle stretching of the pelvis, upper and lower back. You may be able to build up to 30-60 minutes of walking during this time.

Think of this time as building the foundations to begin exercise.

6 weeks after birth:

• Continue to work on core and pelvic floor and you can start adding in some light resistance work that doesn’t involve straining the abdominals or any impact (E.g. running and jumping).

The connective tissue and ligaments around the pelvis have done majority of their healing but they won’t be strong enough yet to take too much load, even if the muscles are strong, the connective tissue isn’t.

Exercises to avoid until 12 weeks include:

-Sit ups and crunches

-Push ups

-Front planks (Side plank is okay if done correctly)

-Anything that involves twisting (Oblique work)

-Mountain climbers

-Any impact exercises including running, jumping, hopping, skipping.

• Exercises you can start doing from 6 weeks:

- Light hand weights for the upper body

- Swimming (if all scars are closed and cleared by your GP)

- Bike riding if this is not too uncomfortable

- Body weight work (avoiding planks and push ups). Squats, lunges, sumo squats, dips, side planks, clamshells, bridges and Pilates style core exercises are all okay.

12 weeks after birth:

• If you are experiencing no pelvic issues and no heaviness in the pelvis you can now

start introducing a larger variety of exercises.

If you have been working on your core and pelvic floor, you are likely to be ready to start impact exercises. If not, you may need to continue to work on the foundational exercises for a bit longer.

You can introduce weight training and abdominal exercises if you wish, providing you have good technique are not excessively straining through the core.

Look out for abdominal “doming” particularly if you had an abdominal separation. The stomach should always flatten down, not budge up in the centre when doing abdominal work.

Running and impact exercise:

The connective tissues and ligaments around the pelvis are still healing for 12 weeks following birth.

In this time you can be building core and pelvic floor strength in preparation to start some impact activities, but avoid exercises that involve impact for 12 weeks even if you were able to still do some impact exercises during pregnancy.

Self check readiness to run!

- 12 weeks or more post partum

- No pelvic pain or heaviness

- Able to walk 30 minutes or more with no issues

- Can jump forwards with no concerns

- Can hop 10 times on each leg with no concerns (Pain, leaking urine, discomfort)

- Can jog on the spot for 1 minute with no concerns

-Have no back or hip pain when standing on one leg or walking on stairs

-Don’t experience any heaviness or dragging sensations in the pelvis.

If you can tick all of those, you’re ready to start😆

Written by:

Ashley Holliday


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