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Things Don't Just Go Back to Normal: The Implications of Antenatal and Postpartum Physiology and Morphology for the Resumption of Fitness Testing

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[Technical Report, Research Paper]

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The US Marine Corps currently gives Marines six months following their 42-day postpartum convalescent leave, or about seven and a half months, to rehabilitate before resuming fitness testing. However, this time period is inadequate to regain sufficient muscular strength and endurance in the transversus abdominis and pelvic floor muscles to enable safe fitness testing due to the high-impact andor high-intensity of the constituent test events and the sustained repetitive nature of the abdominal crunch event. Pregnancy-induced musculoskeletal changes, to include hormone-induced ligament relaxation, persist for months after childbirth and have substantial ramifications for abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. If postpartum women do not return in a graduated, progressive manner to high-impact activities and activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure, such as trunk flexion and heavy lifting, they are more prone to incidence or recurrence of diastasis recti, abdominal fascia herniation ,incontinence, andor pelvic organ prolapse, all of which affect long-term health and readiness. The current timeline for resuming fitness testing should be extended to no earlier than 9 months postpartum. Additionally, postpartum Marines should be referred to physical therapy programmatically so that they can undergo rehabilitation following childbirth with a physical therapist who has womens health training and experience.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Medicine and Medical Research

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[A, Approved For Public Release]