By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles…
By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS
Cycle syncing is adjusting our lifestyles, diet, and exercise routines around our menstrual cycles to make menstruation easier to manage as well as protect us from potential injuries. This is easier for people who have a consistent 28-day cycle (which is what this blog is based on), but I understand there are many people whose menstrual cycles are not as regular/consistent which may make things more difficult. Tracking your period is important for menstruating individuals as it gives you an understanding of your general health and can give you warning signs you may have otherwise missed (skipping periods, inconsistencies with your cycle, etc.). The different phases of the month are all associated with different hormone fluctuations, so having a good understanding of this can help with general health and is especially helpful for those who are training and working on their fitness.
There are 4 phases of each menstruation cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phase. Each phase of our cycle is associated with different hormonal levels. The theory behind cycle syncing is aligning our activity and diet to better accommodate these hormonal shifts. Why would this be important to know? Research has found that muscle and tendon injuries occur almost twice as often in the late follicular phase compared to the early follicular or luteal phase and are more likely to occur after the expected date of menstruation. We know females are more prone to certain musculoskeletal injuries than men (think about ACL tears); knowing female athletes have more muscle and tendon injuries in the late follicular phase can help us train around these days to better protect female athletes and hopefully prevent these injuries. Knowing when to push and when to back off can help us play to our body’s level and protect us at other times.
What does an example of cycle syncing look like?
Now, this is not an exact art. Not everybody’s cycle is the same. Some phases can last longer than others. Regardless of how your cycle looks, knowing how your body responds to different phases of the month and understanding your cycle can be a helpful aspect of training and preventing injury.