‘When can I start exercising again?’ ‘When is it safe to start running?’ I think we are all asked these questions frequently by postpartum women. At the end of this blog you will know the answer and find links to 3 great infographics kindly provided by the author Grainne Donnelly. 

Pregnancy and delivery have a big impact on a woman’s body. Several issues like hormonal changes, weight gaining, straining and birth trauma of the pelvic floor but also loss of abdominal support can occur. In addition, sleep deprivation, fear of movement (previous blog) need to be taken into consideration when we advise women with regard to returning to exercise and running postpartum. I will first discuss the 6 Rs framework and then the infographic regarding return to running.

Donnelly et al. addressed these very important questions and developed the so called 6Rs Framework regarding return to exercise/sports. This framework was developed for athletes but I think it is also very suitable for women involved in recreational sports activities. 

The 6 Rs framework proposes a proactive approach 🙂 (in a multidisciplinary team for athletes). It uses a biopsychosocial approach and takes both the health of the mother and baby into consideration. 

So the 6 Rs approach starts with preparing a woman prenatally. The 6 Rs describe the different phases: 1. Ready (prenatal), 2. Review (6-8 weeks), 3. Restore (8-16 weeks), 4. Recondition (16 weeks+), 5. Return, and 6. Refine. I will not discuss these phases in depth  because they are well described and visualised in the provided infographic.  

With regard to return to running Donnelly et al. developed an infographic to help medical, health and fitness professionals. This infographic covers examples of exercise progression postpartum. It  is based on thorough critical appraisal of the literature as well as expert opinion. Unfortunately,  there is currently a lack of high quality research on returning to high-intensity activities like running postpartum so you have to keep that in mind.  

I think the approach suggested by the authors is very important. Women deserve good information and guidance on exercise and running during pregnancy and after delivery. It will empower women to take up sport or remain active during pregnancy and help them to return to sport safely after delivery. 


Donnelly GM, Moore IS, Brockwell E, et al. Reframing return-to-sport postpartum: the 6 Rs framework. Br J Sports Med 2021;0:1-2

Donnelly GM, Rankin A, Mills H, De Vivo M, Goom TSH, Brockwell E. Infographic. Guidance for medical, health and fitness professionals to support women in returning to running postnatally. Br J Sports Med. 2020 Vol 54, 18.

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