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Christopher 2023 Return running delphi paper_Izzy Moore.pdf (741.1 kB)

Clinical and exercise professional opinion of return-to-running readiness after childbirth: an international Delphi study and consensus statement

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posted on 2024-01-09, 16:59 authored by Shefali Mathur Christopher, Gráinne Donnelly, Emma Brockwell, Kari Bo, Margie H. Davenport, Marlize De Vivo, Sinead Dufour, Lori Forner, Hayley Mills, Izzy MooreIzzy Moore, Amanda Olson, Rita E. Deering

Female athletes have identified a lack of guidance as a barrier to successfully returning to running postpartum, and existing guidelines are vague. Our aim was to define the current practice of determining postpartum run-readiness through a consensus survey of international clinicians and exercise professionals in postpartum exercise to assist clinicians and inform sport policy changes.

A three-round Delphi approach was used to gain international consensus from clinicians and exercise professionals on run-readiness postpartum. Professionals who work with postpartum runners participated in an online survey to answer open-ended questions about the following postpartum return-to-running topics: definitions (runner and postpartum), key biopsychosocial milestones that runners need to meet, recommended screening, timeline to initiate running, support items, education topics and factors that contribute to advising against running. Consensus was defined as ≥75% participant agreement.

One hundred and eighteen professionals participated in round I, 107 participated in round II (response rate 90.6%) and 95 participated in round III (response rate 80.5%). Responses indicated that, following a minimum 3-week period of rest and recovery, an individualised timeline and gradual return to running progression can be considered. Screening for medical and psychological concerns, current physical capacity, and prior training history is recommended prior to a return to running.

This study proposes recommendations for the initial guidance on return-to-running postpartum, framed in the context of current research and consensus from professionals. Future research is needed to strengthen and validate specific recommendations and develop guidelines for best practice when returning-to-running after childbirth.





  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Christopher, S.M., Donnelly, G., Brockwell, E., Bo, K., Davenport, M.H., De Vivo, M., Dufour, S., Forner, L., Mills, H., Moore, I.S. and Olson, A. (2023) 'Clinical and exercise professional opinion of return-to-running readiness after childbirth: an international Delphi study and consensus statement', British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

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Izzy Moore

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  • Applied Injury Science

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