PMS. periods. time of the month. Whatever you want to call it, those with wombs experience a clogged inner lining every month which inevitably affects daily activities including cycling.
The month is average, of course – it changes for everyone, as are the symptoms that come with it.
Some may experience a light flow, be able to carry on riding with ease, and others may have to stay in bed. Or, people with endometriosis may go through their cramps because those who go through menopause experience hot flashes.
Let us contribute to breaking the stigma with tips, tips, and tricks about period cycling from coaches, health nutritionists, hormone experts, personal trainers, and sports scientists.
The importance of talking about the menstrual cycle
Heidi Blunden, lead trainer for Invictus UK Cycling, who has also worked with British Cycling on programs that tackle inequality, believes discussions about menstruation are important to have value.
“It feels like a normal conversation to have as a coach because it’s a huge part of that person’s health and lifestyle, and it affects how and when they feel like training.”
Esther Goldsmith, a sports scientist at Orreco, discusses why this wasn’t the focus earlier.
Historically, females trained as well as males, because much of the sports science research and the research on which a lot of the protocols are based has just been done on men.
We need to appreciate that men and women have different bodies, and therefore different physiology. It could mean that we need to have different considerations about everything that includes being female.
“We always talk about marginal gains in sports, but in reality, it’s kind of extreme gains.”
Cycling during your period: Should I ride my bike during your period?
So why ride on your period? You definitely don’t have to. Exercise is great for combating bad moods or feelings of stress and anxiety, said Lucy Journal, PT and head of wellness at Puresport. The endorphins released during physical activity such as cycling can make you more relaxed and in a better mood, as well as having the potential to help with menstrual cramps.
She’s also a big advocate of adapting training to your menstrual cycles – if you need to.
If you have a coach or are a coach, it’s important to have discussions about your period. Blunden goes through screening questions with her female clients.
This is to determine if they have had a regular period and what is normal for them. The absence of a period indicates overtraining, and this is alarmingly common, particularly in young athletes and those who compete at a high level.
Blunden places a lot of emphasis on the rider as an individual. The menstrual cycle is unique to each person, so forcing yourself to conform to the advice on websites can be harmful.
Whether you are looking for menopausal women, women with regular or irregular periods, or have not started their cycles yet, the approach is the same and you need to look at the person in front of you, and treat them as an individual.
The biggest tool I have as a coach and have as an athlete is a pen and a piece of paper and writing it down. And if they don’t track their symptoms, that’s something I really encourage them to do. All in all, it was really three months before we could start getting a picture of anything and trying to fit things into how you feel with PMS symptoms or going through menopause.
On the topic of menopause, hormone expert Dr. Martin Kinsella says that hormonal fluctuations during this time can affect women dramatically and in many ways. When hormones are disrupted, this can lead to a number of symptoms.
These include spotting, weight gain, mood swings, infertility, lack of energy, lack of sleep, depression, vaginal dryness, and hair loss.
I cannot stress the importance of progesterone enough to balance hormones. Progesterone is gold for most women. It works an absolute dream.
“Although exercise has not been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms, I would argue that it can certainly help address many of the changes that occur as a result of hormonal imbalance during menopause… I would advise that cycling is an excellent sport for those experiencing menopause. menstruation;
Clothes during menstruation: what should I wear during menstruation?
Clothing can be an important consideration when riding during your period. The different types of products used for your period can vary, as do personal preferences.
Pads and tampons are a common solution to bleeding, but they may not be ideal for longer rides — or even those who don’t have a toilet in a coffee shop stand. If you have to pause to answer nature’s call, sanitary pads, tampons, and even menstrual cups can start to get tricky.
This doesn’t mean none of the above works, but there are alternatives or items you can incorporate into your current routine – with more available all the time.
Absorbent period clothing does exactly what it says on the tin, and the movement toward its use is driven in part by a desire to reduce consumption of single-use plastics. There’s more variance with this option as well, as knickers come in a range of options.
From classic briefs to high-waisted boxer shorts, there are many options for ordering online, from places like Flux Undies, whose products absorb up to five tampons of fluid, or Modibodi — whose technology extends daily moisture to the equivalent of a flush of 10 Tampons for hours in the saddle.
Thinx launched a sportswear collection that includes absorbent sleep shorts, training shorts, leggings and shorts. The shorts are lightly absorbent—worth one pad, so not for heavy days or flows—and they don’t come with inner padding like cyclists are used to, so they’re best for leisurely cycling or under padded shorts.
However, it does come with room to put a heating pad inside, and I recommend sizing up if you experience bloating.
Bib shorts are a staple of a cyclist’s wardrobe. Fortunately, some are designed with toilet stops in mind, so incorporate features like poppers to separate shorts from the straps.
Shorts usually put less pressure around the waist because they are not as flexible as regular cycling shorts, so they may be a better option to test if you experience bloating or pain during your period.
Editorial Assistant Emma Cole recently reviewed the Summit Classic Babe – which, with the Clip & Pit system from Pactimo, make it easy to release the chest strap for ergonomic comfort.
For personal hygiene beyond cycling clothing, there’s nothing wrong with packing some wet wipes for yourself (and your bike). Go to your local store and pick up a package for a few pounds before I can include more in this sentence.
While you’re there, pick up some extra sanitary products—like pads and tampons if you use them—and maybe some sun cream, happily.
And since you’re already in the store, bring me two bottles of red wine too? And some chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate.
Nutrition during the menstrual cycle: What do I eat during my period?
Jill Maddalena, health nutritionist and spokesperson for Puresport, notes that good nutrition is vital throughout your menstrual cycle. Eating a varied diet can contribute to healthy hormone levels, helping to make cycles more regular and reduce PMS symptoms.
While eating too little food can affect ovulation, overeating the wrong types of food can also lead to increased food cravings and painful periods. If you’re on your period while riding a bike, try packing some nuts and dark chocolate.
Low progesterone and estrogen during periods can make you hungrier than usual, Maddalena added, and low serotonin – the feel-good hormone – can leave us wanting to seek relief. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, so bring it with you on the flight.
“Before your period, you should eat foods that provide quality energy and that stabilize blood sugar and reduce food cravings. Reduce refined carbohydrates and processed foods, focusing more on protein sources.
Try to eat foods rich in magnesium that can help fight fatigue. These include leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, and spinach. During menstruation, avoid fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods that can exacerbate menstrual cramps and worsen PMS.
But after putting in the energy on the bike, look for foods that contain magnesium. This nutrient is generally lower in menstruating women and this can contribute to muscle cramps/fatigue.
“I recommend butters with nuts, brown rice, seeds, beans, and legumes. Leafy greens are also great for an iron boost that can drop when you bleed. Protein is also a great choice to help you feel full. Fatty fish, which is high in omega-3s, is anti-inflammatory and can help you feel full.” Reduce menstrual pain along with fruits and vegetables that contain beneficial antioxidants.
How to monitor your menstrual cycle
As Blunden said, pen and paper is a great way to start. Personally, I use the Clue app. The free version allows you to track your period, menstrual cycle, sleep time, energy levels, symptoms and gives an analysis of cycle length and variation.
Goldsmith is part of the scientific team behind the FitirWoman App, an app developed by her colleague Dr. George Bruenfels, head of the Orreco Maths Program.
It is a free menstrual cycle app. We did a research study on Strava users two years ago and saw that a lot of these women were experiencing symptoms that had a potential negative impact on their training.
FitrWoman helps track your menstrual cycle, provides personalized advice on training considerations and offers personalized dietary suggestions for changing hormone levels throughout your cycle.
For trainers and training programs, Blunden uses TrainingPeaks.
“TrainingPeaks is the only thing I pay a lot of money for as a coach. I encourage athletes to use them as well, because they are a great way to synthesize the training I describe, but also athletes can take notes about their symptoms, how they feel, what happens to them that day, and I can see , so we have this kind of constant contact.
So I ask the players to write down when the first day of their period is, or if they are expecting it, and it has not yet come, give me this information. And then if we work together, hopefully over the course of several months, we can sort of identify patterns together.
Enable conversations about your period
It is important to foster an environment that allows for honest conversations about your period. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and nothing to be ashamed of.
But how can this be applied from an indicative perspective?
As Blunden notes, “I work with really good male trainers, actually. A lot of the time they ask, but I think it’s hard for them. If it’s not a conversation you might have with a partner or a sister or a mother, that’s kind of difficult I guess.” generally.
Don’t be embarrassed about it, because they view it from a scientific point of view or a point of view where it affects your performance, either in a positive or negative way. So they’ll want to work with you to support you in improving and that’s an important piece of the puzzle
Essentially, diversity in the type or severity of symptoms during your period means that it is not a “one-size-fits-all” method. By talking to each other, friends, coaches, and teammates, we can all become more familiar with the menstrual cycle and cycling.