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How Athletes Can Relieve Menstrual Cramps

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Heavy period cramps can disrupt your game, big time. In this blog, we bust the myth that period cramps are inevitable, teach you the VERY simple science behind what's going on, and provide natural tips to alleviate cramps so that it does not affect your performance, on and off the field. Let's do this.

The Myth: Bad cramps are an inevitable part of being a woman.

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Nope! That's not necessarily true!

The Reality: Period cramps are very common but that does not make them normal. Bad cramping during your menstrual phase (especially to the point of crying, throwing up, and impacting our daily activities) is a sign that you may or may not have a hormonal imbalance or underlying issue. 

We like to think of it as your way of your body telling you that something is "off" and that you need to make lifestyle adjustments.

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What causes cramps?

Let's keep it simple, shall we? Cramps are contractions of your uterus caused by hormone-like substances called PROSTAGLANDINS. Prostaglandins help shed your uterine lining (aka. your period) Light period pain is normal but if you get to the point where your cramps are impacting your life, that could be a sign that you have HIGH PROSTAGLANDINS.

And what causes high prostaglandins? Inflammation!

Studies are continuing to show that the more inflammation that you have in your body, the more pro-inflammatory prostaglandins there are...This could be why you're having really harsh period cramps.

Cramps GIF - Period Katherine Pierce The Vampire Diaries - Discover & Share  GIFs

What causes inflammation?

Lack of nutrients/nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, too much cardio, processed sugar or flour, overconsumption of caffeine, too much screen time on your computers or phones, toxic people in your life -- ALL of these things can add stress & inflammation to your body! 

How can I reduce cramps to ensure that they do not impact my performance as an athlete? 

Are you ready for these amazing tips!?

Ready GIF | Gfycat

The name of the game is LOWER INFLAMMATION & STRESS in your body. You can also try the tips below...

  1. Adjust your diet & balance your blood sugar - Managing your blood sugar is KEY to balancing your hormones and lowering inflammation. During your period, make sure you are eating nutrient-dense foods jam-packed with micronutrients and fiber. We have 60 healthy recipe ideas for you here...
  2. Reduce caffeine, gluten, soy, sugar - These foods infamously create inflammation in your body! Of course, treat yourself from time to time, but perhaps crowd these out of your diet during your menstrual phase to avoid extra inflammation.
  3. Add in more fiber - More fiber means more bowel movements! This helps you flush out toxins of your body (which is great for lowering inflammation)
  4. Eat ginger - Studies show that ginger is as effective as IBuprofen! Add ginger tea or ginger to your food during these times.
  5. Add in healthy fats -The two types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation, which causes swelling and pain. AKA. Omega-3 rich foods show to lower inflammation in your body. Eat more walnuts, salmon, sardines, seeds, turmeric.
  6. Add in magnesium- Magnesium helps relax your muscles - which is great for when cramps hit. Taking magnesium helps to relax these uterine muscles and offers relief from cramping pain.
  7. Manage your stress/recovery - Deep breathing, meditating, reading, rolling out, stretching, yoga, ice baths, walking. All of these things are amazing for slowing down and recovering. 

One fun tip and one of the easiest things you can do is Google "anti-inflammatory foods" or "recipes" to find healthy suggestions from reputable sources! Add these meals into your daily routine!

By now you can get excited because there are things in your control that can help relieve period pain and therefore, play your game without pain!!!!!

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