Gone are the days when pregnant women sat home and watched TV. With your doctor’s permission and ongoing supervision, running is an acceptable way to keep active, although there may be risks. If you were a 10-miler before pregnancy, you can continue running -- just not so far and at a slower pace. Keep in mind, your body is changing; your ligaments are relaxing, you’re carrying more weight and your bones are losing calcium to the fetus. For the pregnant runner, this may make you more susceptible to shin pain.
Benefits of Running
Running and staying active during pregnancy is important to your health and that of your baby. If you ran prior to becoming pregnant, you may have to slow your pace now that you’re running for two. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises exercising every day for at least 30 minutes. This can help improve your outlook, decrease bloating and gas, reduce backaches, help you sleep better and increase your muscle tone and endurance – which can come in handy during labor and delivery. But if you begin to experience any kind of discomfort in your legs while running, it’s time to stop and see your doctor.
Causes of Shin Pain
When you become pregnant, your body produces hormones that help your body carry your baby to term. Some of these hormones cause your ligaments to stretch to accommodate the growing fetus. As a runner, the increasing weight of the baby and this increased mobility of your joints, may throw your stride off kilter. This might cause lower back, leg and shin pain. Runners can also develop shin splints caused by swollen and overused leg muscles, stress fractures or hairline breaks in the shins, or flat feet. This can cause leg pain as well. To ensure your safety and that of your baby, stop running and see your doctor.
To decrease your chances of developing shin pain during pregnancy, stick to a slower pace and a shorter run. Rest often during long runs and stay hydrated. Wear clothing that is comfortable and cool. Remember that your running goals during pregnancy are not to push yourself to the limit, but to maintain your well-being. Warm up well before each run and wear well-supported and padded shoes. Find a place to run that isn’t a hard surface and stretch out after each run.
What to Watch For
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist warns that there are some risks of running when pregnant, especially if you overdo it and don’t listen to your body. If you find your legs feel weak or your muscles are aching, painful or swollen, see your obstetrician right away. Other signs to be mindful of are vaginal bleeding or leaking, sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, headache and contractions.