Postpartum Recovery – Return to Exercise and Sport

A physical therapist is best suited to assess, treat and help a woman manage the musculoskeletal and urogenital changes of the postpartum woman in the 4th trimester and beyond.  This review of postpartum exercise literature will assist the therapist in understanding current guidelines and recommendations that support the timing and requirements for returning to fitness, exercise and sport.   The seven articles reviewed discuss current strategies for abdominal wall, general strength required for injury prevention, and return to sport activities.

Some women – including high level and recreational athletes – face a balance, learning how to care for a newborn and to restore her fitness to prenatal health status. For people who have to return to competition, physical jobs or those who use exercise for stress relief, this timetable may be accelerated. These needs exist alongside the challenges of sleep deprivation, physical changes from pregnancy, and recovery from childbirth that can require rest and rehabilitation. Exercise goals in postpartum women vary, as do the current evidence based recommendations for returning to sport.

Photo by Ronnie George on Unsplash

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