35% of postpartum women that return to running report musculoskeletal pain. A new research study has looked at biomechanical and musculoskeletal differences that exist in postpartum runners as compared to nulliparous (person who hasn’t given birth) runners. 9 women less than 2 years postpartum that run at least one day per week were compared to 9 nulliparous women that run at least one day per week. The following were found as clinically significant differences present in postpartum women:
-increased peak braking force (24.3% increased)
-decreased hamstring flexibility (14% decreased)
-decreased hip abduction strength (25.9% decreased)
-decreased hip adduction strength (51.6% decreased)
What is peak braking force? This refers to the front to back force through your foot when it first hits the ground that aids in just what it says, breaking. This is an important biomechanical metric in running as it has been found that female recreational runners with greater peak braking forces are at higher risk for running related injuries. It is thought that postpartum women may present with this increased peak braking force due to lack of lumbopelvic stability and decreased hip strength. Luckily, it has been shown that gait retraining is effective in decreasing peak braking forces and therefore should be implemented with postpartum runners.
Another take away from this study, is that there exists noted strength and flexibility deficits in postpartum runners that needs to be addressed in order to safely and successfully return these women to running. All postpartum women should seek the care of a pelvic health physical therapist that understands the changes in a postpartum body and can help them get back to a higher level activity like running.
At Mend, our pelvic physical therapists are here to serve postpartum women from Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, Longmont, Erie, and more. Schedule an appointment today with the pelvic health specialists!
Christopher, Shefali Mathur PT, PhD; Bauer, Lindsey PT, DPT; Maylone, Rebba PT, DPT; Bullock, Garrett S. PT, DPhil; Chinworth, Susan A. PT, PhD; Snodgrass, Suzanne J. PT, PhD; Vallabhajosula, Srikant PhD Biomechanical and Musculoskeletal Differences Between Postpartum Runners and Nulliparous Controls, Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: January/March 2022 – Volume 46 – Issue 1 – p 11-17
Napier C, MacLean CL, Maurer J, Taunton JE, Hunt MA. Real-Time Biofeedback of Performance to Reduce Braking Forces Associated With Running-Related Injury: An Exploratory Study. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Mar;49(3):136-144.