Here is yet another article in the FAQ series. I’m grateful to all of you who’ve asked questions in their comments! I will reply depending on the frequency of the questions posted.
This time we shall discuss women’s period (monthly, menstruation) and if it’s safe to work out during this period. I’m really curious to read about your personal experience and I’d be glad if you shared what you do and don’t do during your menstruation 🙂
The short answer is – if you feel good, go ahead and work out. If you don’t feel good – then don’t do any exercises.
The period is not a disease but women’s normal monthly state. So there should be no reason why women should not work out. If, however, the period is painful, no matter where it hurts, then you do not train, simply because you feel sick and not because you’re having your period. You can do some stretching, if this does not cause more pain or discomfort.
Argument from personal experience: I do work out during my period, especially when I have to catch up with my video schedule. But if I have no videos to shoot, I take it easy during the first two days. Usually, the first day my stomach might ache, if I use the abdominal muscles. That’s why I make fewer pushups during this day and I don’t jump; I work out only with body weight. Also, if the first day of my period is suitable to take a rest (I have had times when I work out without any rest), I take this as a sign that I should have a break. From the third day on I can train at a normal pace.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
From my experience as a certified personal trainer: about 30% of ladies I work with ask if they can train during their menstruation. This comes to show that they consider this time special and expect some difference. I think that commercials have made us believe this is the case, as they suggest the existence of PMS (I also thought that I have a severe form of PMS!!!).
Truth is, the moment you stop considering your period as extraordinary and you stop thinking that you get tremendous sweet hunger, you stop feeling any severe hunger at all. After two or three months of regular workouts almost all of my clients say that their period is much milder (even men do :-D!) There is no more swelling and the PMS is alleviated (the reason might well be that I keep on telling them that there is no PMS ;-)).
Also, the sweet hunger anticipating the menstruation is a myth! I know that you can feel it and you think that it’s something real, but in fact you’ve let them plant it in your mind!
Now I’ll plant another idea in your mind. Please, leave a comment tomorrow if you’ve had a dream about it, or if you’ve thought about it… I have just a couple of lines to influence you, so I’ll be harsh 😉
Picture yourself while on your period, wearing no underwear, no sanitary pad or tampon, riding a horse along a dirty dusty road; dust covers your skin and it gets in your mouth. After several hours of riding you go home and wash the blood stains from the horse’s back.
That’s enough! Let’s see what I’ve suggested to you 🙂
Period and flexibility
Photo source: Wikipedia
In Bio Fit sports college, in the bodybuilding specialty (meaning muscle building and strengthening workouts) we had Assoc. Prof. Boyanov, who warned us to be very careful with strengthening exercises when it comes to women’s second part of the period. He argued that increased levels of progesterone after ovulation make women more flexible. So there should be extra care for exercises with big weights during this time. We are talking about considerable weights, though, which I don’t use in my workouts at home, such as squatting with +40 kg. Remember, the second part of your menstruation cycle is no time for personal record-breaking!
I don’t want to discuss the aspect of hormones, but I will only mention that the first half of the menstruation cycle is dominated by the hormone estrogen, and after ovulation – by progesterone. Have a look at the photo to see how hormones change over the month.
The enhanced flexibility after ovulation might be used to train the level of flexibility as a whole. In this case you should be very careful that you don’t overdo it and cause traumas. Following the same principle, professional athletes take doping way before competitions – they build muscles, enhance their performance, their bodies adapt to the new top results and when they stop taking doping they have a slight drop in their performance, but they have achieved a higher level compared to what they had achieved before. Also, there is enough time for their bodies to get cleansed from the doping. So, use progesterone as natural doping to develop your flexibility 🙂
I’m curious to see if you train during your period. Do you do anything different? Also, don’t forget to share with me tomorrow if you have had any weird thoughts about menstruation and horses…
😀 😀 😀
P.S. My mind is really going wild today – menstruation, horses, flexibility… 😀