If you follow Emgoddess you will see how we continually share how the menstrual cycle impacts so much of our lives. Our emotions, moods, physical changes, even the clothing styles we choose. But it also impacts our ability to achieve different levels of fitness in our fitness activities.
Look at yoga for instance. I have many friends who practice yoga, many are even teachers and when I talk to them, often I hear the same thing.
Sometimes they can take a yoga class and feel the strongest they have ever felt, seemingly able to push their bodies into poses not normally attainable. Then the next week, boom. Gone. They really cannot reach to even part of the way into a pose.
The only thing that has changed in where you are in your cycle.
So, whether you are a yoga novice (like me) or one serious yogi, understanding your cycle can really help you to work WITH your body and enjoy your practice depending on what day you are in your cycle.
Day 6 to 12 – physically you have just finished menstruating for the month and you are feeling less bloated and instead are feeling light. As your oestrogen levels increase so does your ability to exercise, feeling great and wanting to really push yourself. This is usually a ‘feel-good’ time of the cycle, this phase is full of energy and focus, full of enthusiasm, confidence and renewed energy. Studies suggest that strength training during this period may result in higher increases in muscle strength, compared with other times of the month. Energy levels and mood typically rise throughout this phase, so readiness for training may be improved, and harder sessions could potentially increase.
Research in 2017 revealed the surprising statistic. Women are three to six times more likely to suffer musculoskeletal injuries in the later stage of the follicular phase, closer to ovulation. In particular, tendon and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL, or knee) injuries when oestrogen levels are high. Evidence suggests this is due to increased joint laxity where there is a looseness of a limb or muscle. So it’s vital to incorporate a thorough warm-up, particularly important when you are making short, sharp direction changes.
Also, pain tolerance can be lower here, so you may just need to be careful of any injuries, your body could feel it more here.
Day 13 to 16 – This phase is when oestrogen levels spike. You might want to train hard because that spike in estrogen will likely be giving you a boost of endurance. With this increase in hormones, your energy levels at their highest, it is an excellent time to push yourself physically and enjoy the additional grit that often characterises of this phase.
Due to the change in hormones, the body’s overall pain tolerance increases. Now is an excellent opportunity to strive for a personal best and focus on total body strength training.
Day 17 to next period (around day 28) – Some researchers note that you might not have as much endurance during this time and may struggle to hit previously achieved goals, which can be frustrating. It’s important not to judge the results of training undertaken during this phase in isolation. You don’t want to skip training entirely during this period. However, the luteal phase can be an excellent time to schedule some rest days. Remember this phase is about creativity! So involve dance and movement if you can!
Day 1 to 5 – The Hecate phase is one of intuition and internal reflection. Wishing to withdraw and take care of her energy levels, needed to slow down a notch, as they are often lower at this time of the month compared to any of the others. Exercise is an excellent treatment for pain that is associated with the menstrual cycle, boosting mood and potentially reducing inflammation. Spatial awareness has been found to improve at this time, so this may be an excellent opportunity to include some new skills and techniques, especially something like an intricate skill where good coordination is essential.
How do you know when this is all happening for you? Well, you need to start charting!
A simple process is charting your cycle with the Emgoddess – make sure you get your free chart from the website and start today.
If you want to learn more about how our cycle impacts our exercise, check out the new program My Sport Edge.