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Sport and the menstrual cycle | The complete guide

Sport and the menstrual cycle | The complete guide

by in Workouts - Training techniques

last updated: November 06, 2019

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Premenstrual syndrome and menstruation symptoms can be a challenge for us athletes, but they certainly don't stop us in our tracks! In this post, we have collected together everything you need to know about training during the menstrual cycle, including what to eat during the cycle and what to avoid.

Today sports, running, swimming with the cycle is not only green-lighted: it's positively recommended!

The benefits of doing sport during your period

Woman riding a bicycle

 

Sport gives us something extra and brings several benefits:

  • It increases endorphins, the "happiness hormones"; a kind of natural anaesthetic produced by the brain that is particularly useful for counteracting the typical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menstruation (abdominal pain, headache, irritability, bad mood, etc.).
  • Reduces water retention and promotes circulation in the legs.
  • Develops greater tolerance for pain.
  • Reduces stress levels, anxiety, sadness and it's a fantastic way to relax!

The menstrual cycle and training: what to avoid

Woman doing sit-ups during her cycle

 

There are no sports that can't be done during the menstrual cycle, but it's good to keep some tricks in mind:

  • Avoid exercises that stress the abdominal muscles too much, so as not to increase pain and blood flow.
  • Delay prolonged physical activities that require high physical strength.
  • Try to postpone exercises using weights, so as not to further increase tensions and pains in the back area, especially the lumbar region.

The 4 best sports to do during the cycle

Yoga and the menstrual cycle

1. Swimming

Going to the pool during your period is a real pick-me-up. Swimming is an aerobic sport that increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body, inducing a good mood and relieving tensions. Swimming at low intensity helps to relax and reduce cramps due to the production of prostaglandins, the hormones that stimulate the uterus to contract, creating painful cramps.

2. Yoga

Yoga helps us by stimulating oxygenation, increasing muscle tone and improving posture and the quality of circulation, which has a direct effect on the reproductive organs. Other excellent activities to do include breathing exercises and focusing on relaxation and body posture, accompanied by gentle and conscious movements.

3. Walking

Brisk walking is always a good choice as it is an aerobic activity that is not too intense and has a cardiotonic and stimulating effect on the circulation. It can even be beneficial to run during your period, as long as you make sure to move more slowly and consciously.

4. Bicycle

Pedalling produces endorphins, which make pain less perceptible, and improves circulation in the legs, thereby fighting water retention.

 


Recommended integration:

If you experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or suffer from menstrual pain, try a nutraceutical supplement based on chasteberry, angelica, magnesium, feverfew and vitamin B6.

 


Training programme in the various phases of the cycle

Premenstrual and menstrual phase

Characterised by the presence of oestrogens and progesterone. It's beneficial to engage in light training because the body has to adapt to a series of temporary changes, such as weight gain and water retention.

Post menstrual phase

It is distinguished by the hormone FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone. There is a significant increase in concentration and coordination, as well as improved muscle performance. Take advantage of this! It's the right time to do workouts that require these skills.

Ovulatory phase (about halfway through the cycle)

There are mainly two hormones, FSH and LH. This is the phase where there the blood is at maximum capacity in terms of haemoglobin saturation, this being the fundamental globular protein that transports oxygen to the cells. These are perfect days for doing aerobic work, cardio and running.

Post-ovulatory phase

The same as in the post-menstrual phase, strength and physical and psychological capacities are at their maximum potential.

What to eat during the cycle

Magnesium-rich foods

Choose foods rich in magnesium, which relaxes the uterine muscles and regulates good mood.

 

The best foods to eat during your period:

  • Pasta, rice, cereals (wholegrain is always better) potatoes and, more generally, complex carbohydrates
  • Legumes and fish, which provide the proteins necessary for hormone synthesis.

If there is a heavy flow:

  • Fruit and vegetables that improve coagulation, such as citrus fruits, kiwi, grapefruit, peppers.
  • Cheeses and red meat, especially liver, which helps to replenish heavy iron losses associated with menstruation.
  • Water, and more water: hydrating yourself well is fundamental.

For those who suffer from cramps:

  • Bananas
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Bran rich cereals
  • Sardines

During menstruation, the following are not recommended:

  • Foods that thin the blood, such as pineapple, mushrooms, parsley, onions, melon, fish.

Below are listed foods that are ideal when consumed after ovulation:

  • Fish, celery, fennel, salad, asparagus and white meat, which promote diuresis.
  • Infusions of verbena, dandelion and fennel.

The first day of the cycle is the hardest, as it makes you feel drained of energy. However, if you simply reduce the intensity and duration of training you should be able to continue to go to the gym in those days, especially if you are used to playing sports 4-5 times a week. The important thing is to listen to the signs your body gives you, remember to drink a lot of water and stay motivated by the fact that it's scientifically proven that sport improves menstrual pain!

 

Can you play sports even during your period? Let us know in the comments if you have any tips for dealing with these particular days.

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