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Running & Pregnancy

I love running. I started my journey with running as a sophomore in high school and really fell in love with it in college. Running was my “me time”, my stress relief and my ability to explore and enjoy the outside while satisfying my competitive nature. 

As I began to get older, my friends started to have families and kids,and the running scene started to change for me. I had fewer running buddies because they were  pregnant, postpartum or busy being moms. This always made me a little hesitant about having a baby and found myself waiting to find the “perfect time”.  I was scared about losing all the fitness that I had been building for years and of not getting back to where I was. I have slowly begun to realize, there is no “Perfect” time. So, I made a promise to myself that whenever I got pregnant that I wouldn’t let it stop me from running. But boy was I wrong (partially). 

As I am entering my 3rd trimester, running is hard. Much harder than I realized it would be. From the fatigue, nausea and increase in heart rate in the first trimester, to the increase in aches and pains, stretching ligaments and weight gain in the second trimester. My running has really slowed down and although it hasn’t been easy for me, I have accepted it. I am happy. I am growing an entire human in my body and my bodystill allows me to run (a lot slower and less mileage). It’s truly amazing what our bodies can do. 

Did you know that when you're pregnant that your body is operating at 2.2 times the resting metabolic rate? For reference, at the highest resting metabolic rate a human can handle is 2.5 times their resting rate. Yes, you read that right. Our bodies are working REALLY hard for 40 weeks! SO..I am cutting myself some slack when it feels really hard and if you are pregnant you should too. Don’t be hard on yourself, walk when you need to walk or change it up with some cross training if the discomfort is too much. 

From day one of pregnancy our bodies began to make changes. As we progress through our pregnancy the body must grow and adjust for our little human we are creating. As we grow (moms & baby) our anatomy must shift around to make room.  All the systems in our body start to have changes. For example, our respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, and hematologic systems (plus everything else) begin to shift and adapt to our growing demands. 

Our heart moves more laterally and to the upper portion of the chest due to your diaphragm elevating.  In our heart the eft ventricle grows along with an increase in overall blood volume.  For the renal system, our bladder gets pushed on by the growing fetus making us have increased urgency and frequency.  For the hematological system, our plasma volume increases by 30-50% more than one liter of blood volume compared to non-pregnant people.  The respiratory system, as stated earlier, the diaphragm upwards shifts due to the growing uterus which leads to a decrease in residual capacity (air left in lungs after exhalation).  Lastly, we gain an extra organ, the placenta, it helps protect and grow our baby. With that being said, a lot has to shift around in the body to allow for our baby to grow. 

Some key takeaways that I’ve learned so far through this pregnancy running journey is that everyone’s running journey looks different and that listening to your body is key. Enjoy this season of life and keep it up because all moms and moms to-be are rockstars!

If you ever have any concerns about unusual symptoms, reach out to your doctor or specialist. And when you are getting back to running come on by and see us! We would love to help. 

Happy Running!

Dr. Noelle O’Hara PT,DPT

Kazma JM, van den Anker J, Allegaert K, Dallmann A, Ahmadzia HK. Anatomical and physiological alterations of pregnancy. J Pharmacokinet Pharmacodyn. 2020;47(4):271-285. doi:10.1007/s10928-020-09677-1


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