While it’s no secret you are probably feeling your most sluggish and least athletic while you are on your period, just how does it truly affect your performance when you are out on the field or hustling in the gym? Today, more and more athletes are open about discussing their periods and how they deal with it while out there running, jumping and pumping.
It stands to reason that all the hormonal changes your body experiences during this time would have some physical effect. But does it have a noticeable impact on your physical sports ability and performance? To start, let’s dive into what is actually happening at different stages of the menstrual cycle.
CYCLES & EFFECTS
The stage of your cycle can certainly have an impact on your mental and physical ability to exercise. At the start of your cycle (days 0 to 14), when you are feeling as unaffected and ‘back to normal’ as possible, it is the perfect time to work and train your hardest. The next 14 days, then, is that dip in your peak performance bell curve as you are most likely to feel fatigued and least comfortable.
Though the temptation may be to stop your workout routine completely, you should instead swap out some of your more high-intensity sets for something a little more lowkey to save your sanity and preserve your general comfort.
During your period, your body actually draws on its saved up stores of carbs, so it may be possible to burn fat slightly faster than normal (one bonus)!
Before your period begins, your hormones are surging and skyrocketing. The increased levels of estrogen and progesterone actually affect the turnover of muscle cells, meaning that your muscles may break down more during tough workouts than they typically would. What does that mean for your exercises? Basically, that they may not be as effective as you are thinking they are since it is muscle mass and not fat loss, potentially.
Also a literal pain? The actual period pain aka the stabbing discomfort that is caused by your uterine muscles contracting. This can lead to a phenomenon known as motor inhibition, where your period pain can affect the performance of the surrounding muscles, especially your core and lower back muscles.
Another during your period is that possible dreaded water retention as well as an increase in body temperature. Your period can lower the volume of blood in your body, making it harder for your body to sweat and thereby keep cool.
When your hormones rage at their monthly highs before your period starts, it can make it really difficult to get out and exercise. The motivation just isn’t there.
The bottom line is, sadly, your period can come with a whole host of unwanted side effects that can put a dent in your performance, but you can take advantage of the pre- and post- weeks to make your cycles work for you.