Being a woman can be (quite literally) a pain.
Every month, we have to endure the physiological discomfort of our inner uterine lining being ripped off, and the subsequent bleeding that occurs.
Most women experience the emotional disturbances the week (or two) prior to their period, and this often goes away a day or two after the onset of menstruation. This is often accompanied by severe bloating and not to mention, the hormonal shifts that can lead to all kinds of depression, tension, irritability, and anxiety.
Pretty horrifying, really.
And it’s no wonder it was the most perfect excuse to skip the PT classes in school. It would make the (male) teachers so uncomfortable, they would let us sit on the sidelines.
But is exercising during your period all that bad? Here are some guidelines that might help:
1. Identify the most painful time window
Most women have one day of their period, usually the first or second day of menstruation, when they experience the most severe cramping. Typically in most women, it lasts only a few hours, and then you’re left with the bloating and discomfort but not pain. It’s okay to avoid intense exercise during this window. Let your body do its thing. But let’s be honest – this window is usually just a few hours long.
2. Staying upright is better than lying down
As much as you’d want to curl up in a ball and eat chocolate under your blanket, it’s better practice to stay upright. Go for a slow, long walk while you listen to your favourite music.
3. Exercise can alleviate cramps and bloating
Getting sweaty might be the last thing you want to do, but as we all know, exercise releases natural endorphins that act like painkillers. Furthermore, sweating will help with the water retention that takes place during your period.
4. Exercise can enhance your mood
Going for a workout will help you mentally too. Not only will the endorphins help you feel great afterwards, but you will also have the mental win of sticking to your plan even though you had a perfectly good ‘excuse’ not to go.
5. Do what you can
Ladies, if you are new to strength training, you may not want to attempt setting a personal record in your deadlifts when you are feeling bloated and in pain. However, it is still possible to deload the weights a bit, go light, and go for higher reps during this phase. Build up your endurance so you can set that PR once you are out of the woods and back in full form at the gym!
6. Treat it like any other day
If your energy levels are like any other day and you feel like a badass just like any other day, then why not train like any other day? When you look at athletes, dancers, armed forces – they don’t let their body’s natural processes stand in the way of their training. Many women report being able to train like usual even during menstruation. We should all at least be open to questioning our firmly-held beliefs.