All women are familiar with the physical effects that come along with their monthly menstrual cycle. The headaches can hit hard and fast, and the bloating can make your jeans a little tighter than normal. Oh, and don’t forget about those ever-faithful cramps…
As if that’s not enough, joint pain and muscle fatigue are also a common symptom that women deal with on their period. Hormones that fluctuate during menstruation, such as relaxin, estrogen and progesterone (among others), affect joint health. These hormones are vasodilators—substances that widen the blood vessels in cell walls to relax the muscle tissue. It’s the body’s way of dealing with the physical stress of the menstrual cycle. However, this release of hormones is directly related to muscle tone and joint laxity—both important factors of joint injuries.
Women may be more susceptible to joint injury while menstruating. According to research, female athletes have a decreased sense of joint position due to the hormones during menstruation and are at a higher risk of injury. Many of the studies were conducted with conditioned athletes in high-intensity or contact sports like gymnastics or soccer, but the research is true for all women.
So what does this mean for you?
It is important to know the toll that the menstruation cycle can take on the body’s joints.
No matter the time of month, it’s always a good idea to go for a walk or attend that fitness class at the gym. These studies should be no cause for alarm in your normal workout routine, but it is important to be aware of your body’s signals, especially during menstruation.
Just remember that during your period, your body needs continued excellent nutrition and extra recovery time after workouts. Listen to your body before jumping into a pick-up game of soccer in the backyard with the kids.
And if you live in the Gainesville or Lake City area, schedule an appointment with a compassionate care physician at one of our nearby office locations.