Menstrual cycle and exercise

The hormonal changes that occur in girls affect every individual’s training- to a greater or lesser extent. Some are hardly affected whilst others are affected a great deal.

In most cases, both coordination and mental performance deteriorate one to two days prior to each period, and for the first day of the period. During these days it is appropriate to rest or perform lighter exercise. In particular, training that involves high demands on coordination and precision should be avoided.

  • In most cases, both coordination and mental performance deteriorate one to two days prior to each period, and for the first day of the period. During these days it is appropriate to rest or perform lighter exercise. In particular, training that involves high demands on coordination and precision should be avoided.
  • In the time between the start of a period and ovulation, i.e. the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, high oestrogen levels are present in the body and this means the body responds very well to exercise. During the time between the end of the period and the start of ovulation it is suitable to perform explosive training and hard training for both conditioning and strength, as this provides a window of opportunity for good results in muscular strength, endurance and conditioning training.
  • During ovulation, testosterone levels are at their highest, making this a very suitable time for strength training.
  • Between ovulation, and before the next period begins, longer duration training, i.e. aerobic/endurance training is the most appropriate.
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In general, it is important that girls (and boys!) perform a lot of coordination and strength training in order to reduce the risk of injury. Children and young athletes generally have a higher risk of overload injuries than adults, and this applies particularly to girls who experience pre-menstrual problems or girls who know that they are sensitive one or two days before, and during the first day of, their periods. Therefore, to avoid injury, it is important to plan recovery training sessions during this time and normal training at other times.

More about the female athlete, read the International Olympic Committee handbook  – The Female Athlete_Mountjoy.pdf

Written by: Sverker Nilsson and Jenny Jacobsson

References and further reading:

Behrooz A. Akbarnia, Muharrem Yazici, George H. Thompson, editors. The Growing Spine: Management of Spinal Disorders in Young Children. Heidelberg ; New York : Springer. 2016.

Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science: The Female Athlete. Editor: Margo L. Mountjoy MD, © 2015 International Olympic Committee. Print ISBN:9781118862193. 2015. The Female Athlete_Mountjoy.pdf

Peterson L, Renström P. Sports Injuries. 4ed. Taylor and Francis. 2016.

Rfsu.se

Svensk Friidrott. Grundträning I friidrott 10-14 år. SISU idrottsböcker. 2013.

Thomeé R, Swärd L, Karlsson J. Nya Motions- och idrottsskador och deras rehabilitering. SISU Idrottsböcker. 2011.

Wikström-Frisén L, Nordström A. Kvinnor och träning. SISU Idrottsböcker. 2017.