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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Women's Health Channel
Reported November 22, 2012

Getting Back on Pace After Pregnancy

MADISON, WI (Ivanhoe Broadcast) 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.

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," Liz told Ivanhoe.

Two pregnancies changed her body.

"I never felt right. I had a lot of injuries. I felt wobbly. I literally zig-zagged down the roads."

Liz came to the mom running clinic to find out what was going on. Three stations in three hours help moms pinpoint what they’re doing wrong. 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," Heidersheit told Ivanhoe.

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.

"You can expect some level of mild aches and pains along the way, but they should be short-lived, a couple of days."

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."

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 "but it's definitely worth all your energy."

Since figuring out her problems, she's run multiple half-marathons and just finished her first full marathon.

"It feels great. It's a natural high to get out here and run," Liz added.

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.

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Bryan Heiderscheit, PT, PhD
University of Wisconsin Health Sports Rehabilitation


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