Should women retire their running shoes during pregnancy?

From diet and exercise to baby names and clothing, women get lots of advice from their family, friends and acquaintances when they are expecting a child. One of the most common suggestions is: take it easy.

So, should an expectant mother put her running shoes on the shelf and kick back in the recliner during her leisure time?

Megan Groh Miller, M.D., a primary care sports medicine specialist with Tri Rivers Surgical Associates, said, ³Contrary to a popular myth about pregnancy, exercise is good for expectant mothers and their babies in many ways.

Among the many benefits are: restricting weight gain, preventing gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension, providing for an easier time in labor, reducing back pain and speeding up the recovery.

What type of running/walking program?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, healthy women with a normal pregnancy may either continue their regular exercise regimens or begin new exercise programs.

During her recent pregnancy, Dr. Miller continued to run with modifications to her workout, right up until she delivered her bundle of joy. Following her child¹s birth, she is back running and getting ready to tackle the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 5.

If you are a runner when you become pregnant, you can continue your workout with modifications to your program based on your body and how you are feeling, she said. A pregnant woman who is not already exercising can start a low-impact exercise program, such as walking or working out on the elliptical machine.

Dr. Miller generally recommends that an expectant mother take part in at least 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise a minimum of three times a week. A pregnant woman should not push herself to exhaustion in a workout, she noted. She should listen to her body and stop when she gets fatigued.

Dr. Miller also advises, Women should not ignore warning signs if they occur while running or afterward.

Some of these red flags include:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • leaking
  • cramping 
  • excessive nausea
  • dizziness  
  • contractions

If a pregnant runner experiences any of these, she should consult a medical professional, Dr. Miller advised. No matter what the running program, the woman should tell her physician
about any new abnormalities to ensure that her exercise plan continues to be safe throughout the pregnancy.

Dr. Miller also advises: 

Additional tips for expectant runners

  • Drink plenty of liquids to keep the body hydrated and to avoid overheating. On hot summer days, the mother-to-be may consider moving her workout indoors, where temperatures are regulated to keep her body from overheating.
  • Consume adequate calories to support the growing baby in addition to replacing the calories burned during exercise.
  • Don¹t lay or exercise on the back after the first trimester. This positioncan restrict the blood flow in the body and cause dizziness.
  • Avoid exercising in an environment where the oxygen and atmospheric pressure levels are different than the normal workout location.
  • Continue to stretch before running, but don¹t overstretch. During pregnancy, Relaxin, a hormone, is produced that causes the joints and ligaments to become looser. Overstretching can make the body more susceptible to injury.
  • Wear a pregnancy belt to keep abdominal weight from shifting, causing a loss of balance.

As a new mom, running helped enhance my health during my pregnancy and allowed me to get me back into exercise faster after my child arrived, Dr. Miller concluded.

About Megan Groh Miller, M.D.

Dr. Miller has experience providing nonsurgical orthopedic care to major college sports teams, including players in football bowl games. During a fellowship in sports medicine at UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, she was the team physician for Rutgers and Princeton universities.

Currently, she serves as a medical resource for Slippery Rock University and High School. Her clinical services include: acute and chronic injuries, concussion care, fractures, sprains and strains, soft tissue injuries and general nonsurgical orthopedic services.

Dr. Miller graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed her residency in primary care internal medicine at the Yale-New Haven Medical Center. She also has researched, presented and published articles on numerous sports medicine topics, including concussion management.

About Tri Rivers Surgical Associates

Tri Rivers Surgical Associates is a multispecialty physician practice focused on musculoskeletal care and serving communities north of Pittsburgh. The physicians specialize in orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, primary care sports medicine and rheumatology. The practice enhances its continuum of care through Tri Rivers Physical Therapy, which provides a wide range of physical, hand and occupational therapy services.

To learn more about Tri Rivers Surgical Associates, visit or call toll-free at 1-866-874-7483.