Tailoring your fitness routine to your menstrual cycle is more important than you think. You can actually make yourself more prone to injury by doing the wrong workout at the wrong time of the month. There is a lot of science behind this: women’s professional sports teams throughout the world have started adopting this research to plan their team training routines.
Sounds complicated? Don't worry! Here’s a simple guide to keeping fit safely and effectively through your menstrual cycle:
Cramps, joint and muscle pain, headaches and low energy levels are just some of the symptoms which make us feel like skipping a workout on these days. Add insomnia, poor concentration, irritability and appetite changes to the list, and it makes us just curl up on the sofa!
Light movement can help to relieve cramps and bloating. Light cardio, shorter stints of aerobic exercise, walking and yoga are all great options to relax you and ease muscle soreness.
Remember to take it easy and don’t strain yourself.
This is the “feel-good” phase of the month. Scientific studies show that strength training, like calisthenics, body weight exercises and weight training, during this phase can result in higher increases in muscle strength, compared with other times of the month.
However, did you know that you are more likely to suffer a muscle or ligament injury during this phase? In 2017, research revealed the surprising statistic that women are three to six times more likely than men to suffer musculoskeletal injuries in the follicular phase leading up to ovulation, particularly tendon and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL, or knee) injuries.
To avoid this, be sure to include a longer warm up, don’t overdo the stretches and reduce impact exercises like running during this week.
Strength training is still a great option for this phase. Your energy levels are at the highest, and your pain tolerance is lowest - this means you will be able to push yourself harder and see your best results now. Take care not to strain your ligaments by pushing too hard.
Your energy levels dip during this period, and you may be prone to exhaustion. Your body temperature rises by up to 0.3 degrees Celsius and stays elevated until your period begins. So it’s important to stay cool and hydrated as you work out. Swimming is the perfect option for this period, to stay cool as you get a complete workout.
As your endurance drops, you may not feel very motivated to workout. Schedule more rest days during this week, but don’t completely stay away from exercise, too. Try gentle activities that relax your body, such as yoga or Pilates, which may help relieve symptoms such as cramps, muscle fatigue and bloating.
Femcy offers tailored workout programs based on your goals, for each day of your menstrual cycle. We help you use your menstrual cycle for best results in your fitness and overall health goals. Ready to get moving? Download the Femcy app here!