If you tend to ditch the bike during that time of the month, you’re not alone. Many of us feel low on energy and knocked around on the first day of our periods, and don’t feel like doing much physical activity at all. But did you know that exercise during your period can help release menstrual cramps, combat mood swings and help with PMS? It might also be the solution to a menstrual block or just what you need to regulate irregular periods naturally.
Multiple studies show menstruating women feel better when they get moving. And we happen to think bikes are great all of the time, not just 3 weeks out of the month. So, with that said, here are our 5 tips to riding when you have your period.
1. Consider free bleeding
Society has sort of conditioned us to be embarrassed about our period, but given this is a women’s only site we can talk about whatever we want! My number one tip is to try going product free. WHAT??! Yes. The chamois of your cycling shorts essentially act like a giant pad, and with a few sprays of stain remover after the ride washes out cleanly each and every time (promise).
2. Take gentle pain relief for cramps
Know your period is coming up? Don’t let the pain sneak up on you. If you’re planning a longer bike ride and you know you get cramps, try taking pain relief from 24 before your period is due. This way, you can sidestep your symptoms before they keep you home from your ride. If you forget, be sure to take them at the first twinge of pain.
3. Try short, fast-paced workouts
While you may not feel your best, your hormones may be telling a different story. When your period starts, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. And because of this, women can access carbohydrate/glycogen easily, as compared to high-estrogen time periods [when we] rely more on the slow breakdown of fat. In other words, this hormone shift makes fuel more accessible to your body, allowing you to push harder and get more out of short, fast-paced workouts than you would during other times of the month.
4. Track your period
Whether your ovaries run like clockwork or are impossible to predict, try downloading an app to track your period over time. This may be a particularly helpful exercise if you’re not on any contraception as you can start to look at your average period length, time between periods and, depending on what app you choose, you can track moods and how you’re generally feeling during and around your period. I’ve been tracking mine for 3 years and have now noticed patterns in my cycle that I’d never have known otherwise. For instance, my average cycle length is 42 days, average period length is 7 days and I’ve even tracked breast tenderness and other symptoms to be able to predict my period, despite its irregularity, within 48 hours.
5. Be kind to yourself
Even just a gentle ride around the block counts as exercise, and it may help you feel better, but if you’re not feeling it don’t beat yourself up for not going out. Bikes are rad, but you need to make sure you are doing the right thing for you.
A final note, if you’re regularly sidelined by your periods, consider talking to your doctor. If you suffer from major aches and super heavy periods, have this investigated because those could signal a health problem like endometriosis.