“If men were responsible to carry and deliver a child it would be the end of mankind” –a statement that is often loosely thrown around by men. It’s usually a charming deflect for those carrying a y chromosome, but do guys really know what it takes? I didn’t. For certain, a man’s body is anatomically wrong for carrying and delivering a child, but shouldn’t we still understand what it takes? All of our articles have so far have pertained to running postpartum, but it’s important to put this in the perspective for life. So guys… pony up and learn what it takes to keep mankind afloat while logging those miles. It’s time to have a better appreciation for running moms… they’re fighting an uphill battle.
Part of the larger problem is the complete disregard for what pregnancy does anatomically. Generic “take it easy for a few weeks” prescriptions are offered verbally until an eventual clearance to “slowly resume normal activity.” Truthfully, it’s no wonder why postpartum moms are littered with injuries and trouble returning to the roads. It shouldn’t shock you to know that runners are fairly type-A. Type-A paired with the “want” for your old fitness and considerable time off is simply a recipe for self-destruction. There should be a return to running protocol, but there isn’t. What about a restoration of strength program? Nope. We’re about to change that.
My motivation for learning more about the anatomical changes during pregnancy came for good reason. My wife, Celia, and I are expecting our first child in January 2015 and as you can see, she’s now outnumbered 3:1! (Watch out high school rankings 2020 and beyond!) Aside from being overwhelmingly excited, I quickly embraced my inner nerd and began reading research. Yeah, while some dads are thumbing through “What to Expect” books I was scouring online journals to see what this meant for my wife. My first thought, “Holy $#17. I can’t believe women are not being referred to physical therapy following delivery.” The research isn’t hiding either. Studies blatantly display resulting postpartum weakness accrued through the abdominal wall (hello back pain), along with links between vaginal birth and urinary incontinence (Kegels may not be your answer). Don’t get me started on cesarean sections, either. Even though postpartum research pertaining to strength deficits has proved impossible to find, clinical judgment leads me to believe that resulting weakness is unavoidable in the short term (months) and quite possibly long term (years). Although C-sections rarely result in the cutting of muscle, it does disturb their common midline attachment—the linea alba. Even if C-section acquired weakness is proved to be a non-factor, research DOES support lumbar and pelvis instability as a result of pregnancy. It doesn’t matter whether the baby is delivered vaginally or via C-Section. The weakness results from the growth and development of the fetus prior to delivery. Read more about that here and here. A C-Section can only worsen or compound the problem. Nonetheless, the answer is the same: restore core strength.
Medical professionals aren’t the only ones. I was shocked to find very few resources for women looking to run postpartum. A hit or miss magazine article, maybe? Some online forums of mom are chatting about their experiences, but neither was solid nor held much value. The neglect is more apparent when I read the feedback for our upcoming Cradle to 5K program:
These are moms who are all struggling and apparently looking for direction. We set out a few weeks ago to provide useful content to the apparent overwhelmingly common problem: returning to running postpartum. Based on our feedback we’ve addressed what I’ve deemed (without any statistically certainty) the most common issues: core strength and returning to running safely. Although, we only tell the “why” in these articles, our upcoming video series will address the “how.”