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Is it safe to run when pregnant?

Is it safe to run when pregnant?


There are many different views on whether it is safe to run when pregnant. During your first trimester, it is normally possible to continue with your normal exercise routine, but at a lower intensity. If you have not been a runner prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy is not the time to start!

After the first trimester, there is normally a steady decline in athletic performance. This is due to the fact that the heart has to beat even harder. It beats harder to deliver oxygen to both mother and baby when exercising. In addition to this, your centre of gravity shifts as the baby grows. In particular, around the pelvis is more lax in preparation for delivery, and naturally there is weight gain as the pregnancy progresses. Breathing rate when performing aerobic exercise increases, particularly during the third trimester. Due to the increase in total body mass, additional oxygen is needed to perform any given activity. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation while running when pregnant. This is to not to overexert yourself.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has laid out a list of recommendations for carrying out aerobic exercise during pregnancy:

  • You should complete aerobic exercises at 65-68% of you heart rate. To calculate your heart rate max subtract your age from 220. If you are unsure of what your heartrate max feels like, it is advisable to monitor your heart rate. Use a heartrate monitor. In one study by Dr. Linda Szymanski and Dr. Andrew Satin, 33% of women who trained above 90% of their maximum heart rate on a treadmill test showed symptoms of a brief drop in foetal heart rate and a change in umbilical blood flow.
  • Attention should also be paid to hydration and temperature when running. Your basal temperature is normally about 1 degree higher during pregnancy. Overheating when running can occur quicker and can be dangerous for both mother and child.
  • Pregnant mothers should always stop exercising for shortness of breath, headaches, chest pain, pain of joints or ligaments during or after exercise, or pain or severe fatigue of muscles during or after exercise

It is important to remember that most of the physiological changes which have occurred during pregnancy will last for 4-6 weeks after birth, and longer in those who breastfeed. Therefore a lot of the rules above must be considered, if you plan on getting back into running during this time.

If you have been experiencing any muscle or joint related pain, due to running or any other activities while pregnant, contact us here. Our physiotherapists are experienced in dealing with pregnancy related musculoskeletal injuries. They can provide you with appropriate mobility and stability exercises to counteract the increase in ligament laxity due to pregnancy. Contact us here is you would like to make an appointment.


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