Do you understand how your menstrual cycle impacts the way you train, play and perform? Being more clued up could help you more than you realise.
I read online this week that Actimet, an athlete monitoring platform, has added a menstrual cycle tracking component to its app.
After Lydia Ko talked so openly about suffering from period pains at last week’s Palos Verdes Championship, the announcement of the new feature couldn’t have come at a better time.
In short, it enables athletes to share information about their monthly cycle with their coaching team. That includes where they are in their cycle, how they’re feeling and what symptoms they have.
Coaches gain a valuable insight on how each phase of a woman’s cycle impact performance, injury and recovery. And can therefore tailor programmes with those physiological and psychological changes in mind to optimise training and performance.
And whilst the app is aimed at high-performing athletes, it’s a huge step for women’s sport in general.
By understanding how the menstrual cycle impacts the way women participate in sport, we:
- Empower women to take up and stay in sport
- Improve enjoyment for women in sport
- Reduce injury and improve performance
- Break the taboo and make everyone – men, women, coaches and athletes – comfortable about talking about periods
How your menstrual cycle impacts your golf game
I know what you’re thinking … how does any of this apply to golf?
Well actually, your menstrual cycle has a huge impact on how you play and concentrate, the sort of training you can do for your game away from the course, and even how you control your body temperature.
I’ve written before about how to harness your hormones to play better golf. But, starting from the day of your period, oestrogen and progesterone pretty much determine how you feel and how you play.
And it is absolutely possible to maximise your game based on how hormone levels change throughout the month.
Let’s just say you have a 28-day cycle. Here’s what happens to your hormones:
Aunt Flow arrives. Oestrogen and progesterone are at their lowest. It’s likely you’ll feel tired during this time, BUT you’ll also be able to build more muscle now than at any other time in your cycle.
It’s a good time to hit the gym.
As you enter the follicular phase, oestrogen rises rapidly. This is a natural mood-booster and means you’re likely to have more energy and motivation.
Keep up the work in the gym and make the most of feeling motivated.
As oestrogen and progesterone peak around ovulation, this is when you’ll feel most active and energetic.
Schedule that knockout match, get on the range or spend some time on the putting green.
The week before your period.
Oestrogen has fallen rapidly after ovulation but is starting to rise again, and your progesterone levels are rising too.
It’s time to dial back on exercise a bit. Choose nine holes and pick Pilates over HIIT classes.
Your basal body temperature is rising too so you’ll feel hotter than usual. Try wearing lose-fitting clothes and drink plenty of water.
You might also experience lower quality sleep during this time – a great excuse to spend more time in bed than you usually would.
How could menstrual cycle tracking impact participation in golf?
Our monthly cycles are about a lot more than just mood swings and chocolate cravings.
By understanding our menstrual cycles we empower women to play golf with their hormones rather than fighting against them.
Ramp up on the days they feel good and dial down on the days they don’t.
Remove the shame of those days when you feel tired, can’t concentrate and can’t be bothered.
And help women make the most of the days when their bodies are able to make the biggest improvements.
That is what will keep them coming back to the golf course.
After all, knowledge is power. But a better understanding of women's bodies and how it impacts how they play and train is even more valuable for everyone.
We're on a mission to break taboos and educate everyone about women's bodies in sports. If you're interested, we recommend reading our article about whether you should wear a sports bra when you play golf.