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

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posted on 2022-01-27, 12:24 authored by Megan L. James, Izzy MooreIzzy Moore, Gráinne M. Donnelly, Emma Brockwell, Joanna Perkins, Celeste E. Coltman


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.


This work was funded by internally available funds and is made available under the requirements of the Cardiff Met Open Research Policy


Published in

Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy


Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


James, M.L., Moore, I.S., Donnelly, G.M., Brockwell, E., Perkins, J. and Coltman, C.E. (2022) 'Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum, Part A: Why Do Women Stop Running During Pregnancy and Not Return to Running in the Postpartum Period?', Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy. DOI: 10.1097/JWH.0000000000000228

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Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Isabel S. Moore Izzy Moore

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Applied Injury Science

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher

Publisher Rights Statement

This is a non-final version of an article published in final form in Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy


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