Exercise

Working Out on Your Period: Do You Need to Alter Your Routine?

If you’re a yogi, you’ve probably had an instructor announce that you should avoid certain yoga poses during your period, but if you’re active in other sports or activities, it may have never occurred to you to alter your workout routine during your menstrual cycle. So should you?

When considering if you should alter your workout routine, it really depends.

As far as your yoga instructor’s advice, you can probably take it or leave it. Most popular yoga poses (and contraindications for these poses) were introduced many years before the latest advances in western medicine. The most common poses that you’re told to avoid during your cycle are inversions or any pose where you flip your body upside down (think headstands, handstands, etc.) and the most common reason is that you’re opposing nature by turning your body the opposite direction of your flow.

Should I avoid high-energy poses?

Other reasons for this advice include the idea that you should avoid high-energy poses when you have low energy or that flipping upside down will cause a heavier period because of vascular congestion in the uterus (basically varicose veins in the pelvis) but according to The Society of Interventional Radiology, standing actually exacerbates this problem so, if true, this would eliminate many yoga postures and most types of exercise all together.

Really, you should listen to your body.

If flipping upside down doesn’t feel right at that that time of the month, skip it for a few days. Same goes for other workouts – do what feels right. Working out can help with PMS symptoms so, if you’re up for it, make time for the gym. Bonus points if weather permits you to continue your favorite outdoor workout since a little fresh air can work wonders for your mood.

It isn’t dangerous to push yourself during your period and it doesn’t impact performance.

A 2011 study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found no difference in the VO2 Max (maximal oxygen consumption or aerobic capacity) of various women rowers both on and off their periods and both on and off birth control. Just think, can Serena Williams (or any other professional female athlete) afford to take a week off every month? On the other hand, if you find that your energy tanks during your period, take an extra rest day or substitute your high-impact bootcamp class for a solo session on the elliptical.

You can also alter your workouts to accommodate your favorite feminine hygiene product of choice.

Tampon users rejoice! You can likely continue with your workout of choice but you might find some seated positions uncomfortable. For example, the skinny, hard seat on a cycling bike might shift your pelvis into just the right position to feel your tampon or cup so you might give up your favorite bike for a few days. For pad users, you might actually want to avoid yoga inversions or any other exercises that make you super aware of down there. If you’re an early adopter and into period undies, makers brag that you can continue with all of your activities (sans pads, tampons or cups) leak- and worry-free!

So whether you should alter your workouts during your periods or not is just as individual as the products you choose to use each month. Find what works for your body and ignore the rest!

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