Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum, Part A: Why Do Women Stop Running During Pregnancy and Not Return to Running in the Postpartum Period?

Megan James, Isabel S. Moore, Gráinne Donnelly, Emma Brockwell, Joanna Perkins, Celeste Coltman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the absence of complications or contraindications, running is recognized as a safe mode of exercise for women who ran before pregnancy. Despite this, participation in running decreases during pregnancy and postpartum, with limited research conducted to examine why women who were runners before pregnancy cease running during pregnancy and do not return postpartum.

To understand the experiences of women who have recently given birth and were runners before pregnancy, specifically reasons for not running during pregnancy or returning to running postpartum, as well as postpartum running concerns.

Study Design:
Observational, cross-sectional, mixed methods.

In total, 883 postpartum females completed an online questionnaire related to running habits, reasons for not running during pregnancy, not returning to running postpartum, and concerns returning to running postpartum. Most questions were closed-ended, with opportunity to provide free-text responses. Descriptive statistics of close-ended questions and thematic analysis of free-text responses were conducted.

Women did not run during pregnancy due to nausea/morning sickness, fatigue, fear of or experience of miscarriage and anxiety, nervousness, and fear. Women had not returned to running postpartum due to experience of symptoms/pain and complications postpartum and were concerned about leaking urine, vaginal heaviness, and not knowing how to return safely. Pelvic floor concerns were prevalent throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

There is a need for evidence-based guidance for women to return to running postpartum gradually and safely. This includes greater pelvic health education and support, including access to treatment. Importantly, return-to-running guidance postpartum needs to be considered as an ongoing and longitudinal process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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