Rehabilitating the Female Patient

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Hi there and welcome to post 62 of Strength & Conditioning For Therapists. I’m delighted to bring you something a bit special this week. Before I do, please forgive the rather long interlude between posts. Things have been tremendously busy here at Get Back To Sport – you may have noticed we have a new look to the site, we’ve also been working hard on The Academy and we’ve taken on a new team member to mention just a few things. But back to today and as a result of some of this hard work, we take a look at rehabilitating the female patient with a real expert! If you have an interest in the female athlete, you will know who Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale is. Read on!

The Female Athlete / Patient

Why are we focussing on this, you may ask. In fact, why is there such a big deal about the female athlete at the moment? I ask you why not? It’s about time. For decades, research investigating responses to exercise, training, conditioning etc has predominantly focussed on male populations and then the findings extrapolated to females. But rather than me discuss this topic,

Females Are Not Small Men

Is the extrapolation of data derived from (often young) male populations appropriate to predict how females may respond or adapt? Most probably not. There are significant changes in hormone concentrations across a female’s lifespan, and even across the month. A growing body of research indicate the potential for these changes to affect tissue laxity, performance and perhaps even injury risk.

The changing concentrations of oestrogen and progesterone across the menstrual cycle also can influence multiple physiological systems, including cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and neuromuscular parameters, and as Kirsty and colleagues outline in their recent systematic review, these changes could have implications for exercise performance (McNulty et al. 2020).

Should we pay attention to this within a rehabilitation setting? I asked Kirsty just that, specifically with respect to rehabilitating the female patient. I want to share this very special session that we delivered a few months ago as a part of the Get Back To Sport Academy with Associate Professor Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale.

Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale is a World-leading expert on the female athlete, having published over 60 academic papers, supervised scores of PhDs and sporting a number of leading international collaborations, she’s definitely an authority in the field.

So sit back and enjoy a fantastic 20 minutes. The full length >1hour session is available in The Academy, delivered as a part of the Expert Insights programme.

Back to the session, in which we talk about:

  • why all of a sudden research on female athletes has become popular
  • the influence of menstrual cycle on performance and perhaps rehabilitation
  • the need for an individualised approach to rehabilitating females
  • the importance of an individual’s perception and sense of fatigue in regulating exercise intensity
  • plus lots more…

Play the video below and enjoy!

Examples of Kirsty’s Research

Kirsty has recently published two systematic reviews on the effects of menstrual cycle on performance.

1. Effects of oral contraceptive use on exercise performance: access here

2. The Effects of menstrual cycle phase on exercise performance, access here

Kirsty’s ResearchGate profile can be found here if you’d like to scroll through her long list of publications.

The Get Back To Sport Academy

I’m so privileged to be able to bring to The Academy some of the biggest names and most respected authorities in fields allied to rehabilitation. If you have a good basic knowledge of S&C and you’re excited to take this further, click the link below and read how you can do exactly this!

Exclusive Membership

An exclusive membership academy designed for forward-thinking therapists with a good command of basic strength and conditioning.


McNulty et al (2020). The Effects of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Exercise Performance in Eumenorrheic Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Link

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