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Is the time of the month causing your pain to get worse?

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

Over the past few years there has been a huge drive towards looking at injury causes and prevention.

As of recent, it has been identified that women have a time during their menstrual cycle where they are more prone to injury!

Stephen Sandler, who carried out the research, explained: "There was a clear link between hormone levels and laxity of joints, making women more vulnerable to injury. As they progress through the cycle their joints become increasingly loose. This is due to the changing levels of the hormones oestrogen and relaxin. Midway through the cycle, the level of oestrogen, which gives strength to muscles and ligaments, drops dramatically resulting in a sudden weakness. At the end of the cycle relaxin is present which softens the ligaments. At both these stages women are more susceptible to strains and damage.

Phase 1: menstrual phase - Hormones estrogen and progesterone levels reduce – Estrogen which gives strength to muscles and ligaments, drops dramatically, resulting in sudden weakness.

Phase 2: follicular to ovulation - Increased mood, alertness and potentially energy levels - Adaptation to strength and high intensity has been shown to increase - Alterations to joint laxity can mean that susceptibility to soft tissue injury type is increased - Include progressive warmup and thorough warm ups - Even though athletes may be able to handle a higher load, an emphasis on recovery is essential. - This is the best time to focus on resistance training

Phase 3: luteal - Good time to focus on endurance based training - Peak power may be lower but the same benefit may be obtained from reducing weights or reps - Heart rate and breathing rate may increase - A focus should be placed on post training recovery as muscle breakdown is thought to increase - Energy levels may dip and appetite may increase so a tailored nutrition play is advised.

Phase 4: premenstrual (late luteal) - Athletes are more likely to log a higher number of symptoms and may not be as driven to train - Low energy levels and disrupted sleep are likely – which has a big effect on recovery of muscles - Exercise is a good treatment for premenstrual symptoms.

The research concluded: that 21% of women reported the incidence of pain at days 12-14 of their cycle and 17% at days 24-26. The majority of pain reported in the midcycle was lumbar or pelvic pain compared to lumbar or neck pain at the end of the cycle.

It is interesting to take into account what is happening to our bodies and during certain times of a month females should be adapting their training to suit these changes with hormones to prevent injury risk.

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