Have you ever noticed problems with balance, lower energy levels, or fatigue during your monthly cycle? There are many different philosophies regarding menstruation and physical exercise. Many yoga practitioners take a “Ladies’ Holiday” and do not practice specific yoga postures, including inversions during their menstrual cycle. It is important to understand the available research regarding the effects of menstruation on physical training and the impact of the cycle on athletic performance. As more and more women participate in competition and intense physical exercise programs, having an understanding of the menstrual cycle can be essential to optimal performance.
New research in the Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, and Arthroscopy, investigated the effect of the menstrual cycle on knee joint position sense and injury risk in healthy female athletes. Researchers collected data from 16 healthy female athletes, including serum estrogen and progesterone levels, taken during the three phases of menstrual cycle. Measurements were taken regarding knee joint position sense using skin markers, digital photography, and an AutoCAD software. The changes in hormone levels between the three phases of the menstrual cycle were also evaluated.
- Healthy female athletes have different levels of knee joint position sense across a menstrual cycle.
- Knee joint position sense accuracy decreases during menstruation (when hormones levels are low).
- Female athletes are at higher risk of injury at menstruation.
Researchers recommend that athletes consider improving body awareness regarding the knee joints, and understand the risk factors associated with knee injuries during the menstrual cycle. Taking more rest and recovery days during this period of time, and maintaining excellent nutrition is also a beneficial practice. It is also recommended that coaches implement programming plans that are not geared towards peaking or working on personal records during this time.
What is your experience? Have you noticed a change in your athletic abilities, performance, or any issue with injuries during your menstrual cycle? Do you take more rest days during your cycle, or are you pushing hard the whole month in maintaining the same workout plan?