Let’s be real here–periods are not a pleasant experience as is, but to have to deal with them during the summertime while being involved with strenuous sports–no thank you. These days our lives are filled with so many activities and responsibilities to keep up with that putting your life on hold once a month can be aggravating and a nuisance. Periods bring along many unwanted symptoms such as cramps, headaches, and body aches, as well as some serious cravings. There are many ways to manage these symptoms, and putting these tips and suggestions into practice during the summertime will make your sports season much more enjoyable and comfortable.
Avoid the Bloat
When it comes to the bloating, proper nutrition and constant hydration are key. When it is that time of the month, avoid high sodium diets and consuming processed foods. We know it can be tempting to eat such meals, especially after a hard day of practice when you want to “treat yourself”, but doing so can contribute to bloating, and make you feel worse. Instead, focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Swap out processed grains for whole grains! Get creative with your meals if you find eating plain fruits, veggies, and whole grains are boring, like meal prepping in advance with your favorite healthy recipes. Lastly, stay hydrated! Your coaches probably tell you to do this all the time, and for good reasons. Drinking a lot of water during your period helps reduce bloating and aid digestion.
As an athlete, you may know this, but staying active can help with cramps and bad moods. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true! Aerobic excercise–or exercise that boosts your heart rate–can help with the worst of period symptoms like depression and fatigue. Endorphins will pump through your body and are released from the stimulus of exercise, therefore helping fight the pain and tiredness that can weigh you down during your period. But is there such a thing as too much exercise during your period?
Like most things in life, moderation is key. In a recent UK article about periods during sports, there has been research that suggests that anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries correlate more towards women than men. Scientists think that the hormone oestrogen, or estrogen, produced during your period can “increase the elasticity of joints in the days before ovulation.” When this happens it could cause injury to your ACL, especially if your lower leg or knee gets accidentally twisted. The study and research is still ongoing, but it’s a good reminder that being active doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Do exercises or drills that you’re comfortable and proficient in. Listen to your body and stop if you feel dizzy, nauseous, or if you feel like you’re straining yourself on a particular exercise. The last thing you want is to sit out on a game because you overdid it.
It’s hard to get around uncomfortable uniforms, but do the best you can to make game day or practice day as comfortable as possible. This sounds straightforward, but we advise wearing wearing your favorite and most comfortable undergarments on these days! Don’t try to break-in new sports bras or underwear for example, while you’re already on your period. The last thing you want is something tight around areas that are already sensitive during this time. Can’t get avoid wearing an itchy or tight uniform? We suggest as soon as you’re done with your practice or game, change into clothes that are more comfortable, like your team’s spirit t-shirt and shorts.
Always be prepared! Keep a stash of feminine care products in your duffle bag, and keep it replenished as you go through the supply. As said above, diet has a huge impact on how you feel during your period, and is especially important for athletes. Be sure to pack proper snacks and fluids that will keep you fueled for the game–like unsalted nuts and water. Watch your meals too, making sure to include fruits, veggies, leafy greens, complex carbs, iron-rich foods and whole grains. Lastly, take proper skin-care precautions! You’re already dealing with cramps and discomfort, why add sunburn to the mix?
Managing your period can feel like a never ending chore, and as an athlete it can be hard to handle it when you have multiple priorities during the summer. If you feel like you are struggling to manage your period, even after addressing all these tips you may need to consult your doctor for help. Schedule a new or returning appointment with us anytime! We’re happy to answer any questions you have about your health.