Monday, 19 May 2014

Running and Relaxin

Since being preggers, I’ve turned into an Internet-research machine, trying to find out as much as possible about what’s happening to my body and the worm that I’m growing inside of me.

One of the many, many side effects of pregnancy is an increased volume of blood coursing through your body, something like 50% more. This puts a lot of strain on your body and, if you’re exercising, on your lungs. 

The few times I’ve managed to go out for a run in the past weeks and months have been marked by a lot of wheezing, huffing and puffing, and I don’t think that was down to a lack of fitness. At first it was very unnerving for a 400m warm-up run to feel like such a burden on my lungs, but I’ve gotten used to that feeling now, although I still don’t like it.

Over Easter, we went to Portugal for a wee family break with the outlaws. The view from our hotel room was something like this:
Sagres, Portugal
So of course, when waking first thing in the morning, all I wanted to do was lace up my trainers and go for a sunny run along the beach. That run turned into more of a slog as I really struggled again with my breathing and well, running on the sand, on an incline. But never mind, it was beautiful and I felt really pleased for having dragged us out, even if only for a 20-minute run.

Until a little bit later that day when I could barely get off the couch.

My back was in agony. I felt like an 80-year-old, unable to prop myself up or stand up straight for very long. I went for a deep-tissue massage the next day and told the lady about my beach run and being pregnant. She said that had been a very bad idea and proceeded to give my back a going over. I guessed at the bad idea part, but still had no idea what had caused my back to lock up like that.

Upon my return, I started a pregnancy Pilates class (more about that later), led by a physio specializing in pre- and post-natal therapy. I gave her a quick summary of my pains and she booked me in for a torture session right away.

Turns out, while pregnant, your body produces heaps of relaxin, a hormone that, among other things, relaxes your ligaments (in particular your pelvic ligament) in preparation for D-Day. My beach run must have coincided perfectly with a big surge of relaxin coursing through my body that day because, in essence, I sprained a ligament in my lower back, which caused my joint to jar and pelvis to lock up. Hence the pain. By the sounds of it this was all down to bad timing and a freak coincidence, but having chosen to run on uneven, unsteady sand won’t have helped the situation at all.

Who’d have thought a 20-minute jog along the beach could be the cause for all THAT?

I’m now two torture sessions down, taped up well and good and have been ordered to take a full week off all activity. Yes, that’s ALL activity. No weight lifting or CrossFitting, definitely no running and not even yoga. What’s worse, though is that I’m not even meant to cycle to allow my pelvis some proper rest. Oh, and walking for any longer than 30 minutes is out, too.   

At least it's hot pink!
The good news is (apparently) that this is not like a knee injury that can recur at any point, but rather a one-off that, once it’s been taken care of and my pelvis back in its unlocked state, should remain taken care of – at least that’s what I’ve been told and the truth to which I’m clinging desperately.
So, running while pregnant? Yet another lesson in how ‘what-I-think-will-work-for-me’ and ‘what-actually-does-work-for-me’ differ once the hormones hit for real. Running works for some and I have great respect and a little bit of envy for those moms-to-be who can and do manage to run until late into their pregnancy. Unfortunately, that’s just not me and after the way I’ve been feeling for the past three weeks, I think I’ll give it til 2015 to head back out for my beloved seaside-runs.

What is/was your experience? Did you run while pregnant or do you intend to when you do get pregnant?

Have you heard any stories, advice, tips from other women who’ve given it a go? I’d be interested in hearing those.


  1. What a gorgeous place to spend easter- no wonder you wanted to get out and run!
    That's crazy what happened. I'm glad it was a one-off and hopefully won't happen again. Zero activity sure would be tough. Hang in there, and get in those 29 minute walks for your sanity!!

    1. Thanks. I think I'm through the worst now. :)


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