Learn more about sport strategies:

Recovery

Training is completed to create the body to adapt, the body responds to the stress of an activity and makes it easier to perform the next time. We need a certain level of stress to improve, however recovery is also required to prevent exhaustion or ‘burnout’.

Recovery is the time between the end of a bout of exercise and the return to a resting or ‘recovered state’. 

During the luteal phase, recovery can be reduced because of higher progesterone levels. Therefore it is important to be proactive with recovery strategies even more so at this time of your menstrual cycle. 

The type of recovery strategy you use will depend on what you are recovering from: metabolic stress, neural stress, mechanical stress, psychological stress, central fatigue.

Food

Fuelling around training can help ensure adequate energy availability for sport and exercise, avoiding depletion of stores which can impact subsequent training sessions.

Progesterone is higher during the luteal phase, this can cause protein to be broken down which may slow down recovery and reduce training adaptations. 

To prevent this, you can aim for 20g of protein every 3-4 hours. Try including protein with every meal and snack.

10g Protein options:

  • ½ pint of milk
  • Handful of nuts
  • 1 small yogurt
  • 1tbsp hummus
  • 1tbsp cottage cheese
  • 2tbsp peanut butter

20g protein options:

  • Chicken breast
  • Fish fillet
  • ½ tin of fish
  • ½ of beans
  • 2tbsp soya mince
  • 4tbsp Quorn
  • 3 eggs

You can also try having a milky drink before bed on days of intense training. This will support overnight muscle recovery.

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Sleep

Sleep affects how we live…and train/perform!

Sleep is the most basic form of recovery which can be affected by training, daily life and your changes in hormones across the menstrual cycle. However, a lack of sleep can increase the risk of decreased recovery, and increased risk of injury or illness.

There are many signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation:

  • Need an alarm clock to wake up on time
  • Rely on the snooze button
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
  • Feel sluggish in the afternoon
  • Get sleepy in meetings or warm rooms
  • Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
  • Need to nap to get through the day
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
  • Fall asleep within 5mins of going to bed
  • Can’t get to sleep
  • Wake frequently during the night

The menstrual cycle can cause disturbed sleep during the luteal phase, which can have a negative impact on training and sport performance.

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Check out Dr Chatterjee for some great podcasts on improving your sleep.

Activity

Active recovery can be beneficial, especially if using this to help manage other symptoms such as changes in mood or stress. Movement including walking, mobility, yoga can be helpful recovery options.

Psychological stress

There are many factors that might cause you to feel stressed, work, life events, sport competition, how to fit everything in…feelings associated with stress can be heightened during the late luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. It is important to manage psychological stress as this can cause inflammation in the body, causing other symptoms to be worse and also delays recovery from training and sport performance.

There are different ways to reduce stress, this varies between individuals. Some suggested strategies to try:

  • Exercise
  • meditation/yoga
  • reading a book
  • socialising with friends and family
  • having a hot bath

Time management – be proactive with planning to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

To effectively implement most of these strategies, it might be useful to map out your week to ensure you include time for doing things that you enjoy whilst juggling your other commitments including training. This will also give you perspective as to whether you are able to take on anymore. 

If you are finding your stress is impacting you, you can also reach out for support. Speak to your GP surgery to find out what local support is available for you.

Other strategies

Sports massage

Compression

Hot/cold water immersion

Related strategies

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