The postpartum triathlete

Phys Ther Sport. 2016 Sep;21:95-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2016.07.006. Epub 2016 Jul 22.


The postpartum period in a woman's life is filled with numerous changes, including physical changes, changes in sleep habits, and learning how to best care for a newborn. A common goal among postpartum women is to either begin or resume an active lifestyle, which often includes physical activity such as running, biking and swimming. The postpartum athlete may discover barriers that prevent her from returning to or beginning an exercise routine. These obstacles include muscle weakness, fatigue, depression and physical changes that require exercise modification. The physical therapist is well-suited to properly assess, treat and manage the care of the postpartum athlete. Postpartum athletes wishing to begin or resume training for triathlons require special consideration, as the triathlete must balance training to compete in three different sports. The purpose of the paper is to identify the unique physical and physiological changes that occur to the female during the postpartum period. In addition, injuries that are more commonly seen during the postpartum period will be discussed. Recommendations for beginning or resuming an exercise program will be reviewed. Lastly, sport-specific training for the postpartum triathlete, including challenges presented with each triathlon component, will be discussed.

Keywords: Biking; Multiparous; Running; Swimming.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Bicycling / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Running / injuries*
  • Running / physiology
  • Swimming / injuries*
  • Swimming / physiology