Whatever your sport of choice, you can still stay active on your period.
We spoke to Clare Jones, who is currently representing the Celtic Flames in New Zealand. Here she shares her top tips on how to deal with your period while playing sports
“As someone who has been ‘sporty’ since I could walk, I’ve always liked that I could influence the way my body works. As I grew up and progressed into elite netball I learned how to make my body run faster, jump higher and recover more quickly. Seeing the results of all the training, the sweaty strength and conditioning sessions and those early morning runs paying off is just the best reward. I feel like a woman in control. And then each month along comes a period that threatens to derail that control just a little bit.
There’s no way around this. Periods are no fun. You can embrace them as a sign that your incredible body is working just as it should. But, we all know they are still no fun. With the right tools, they too can be controlled enough that they don’t get in the way of whatever kind of awesome you are currently up to. Everyone is different but these are things that have worked for me:
Make sure everything is as it should be:
If you are struggling to get out of bed when your period hits, are passing out or can’t function because of the pain then you need to get it checked out. Some of us will always have to cope with heavy periods, but if they are affecting your life then there may be an underlying cause. Most doctors are really understanding. They will try to make things a bit easier for you. Not necessarily with painkillers but with a range of options to lighten the problem.
I like to be organised by keeping spare protection in my training bag and replacing them as I use them. Using a tracker app helps me keep an eye on my cycle. I just update the app when my period starts and it will tell me when I’m due. It means that if I know I may feel rubbish, I can move my gym session earlier or later to suit. Smart, right?
Get your protection sorted:
Tampon, pad, cup – whatever suits you and your life. I never keep still and netball dresses are pretty unforgiving. So, I need something that I can rely on for no leaks and that stays put. Try lots of different products until you find what suits. Then, make sure you have it stashed handy for when your period arrives.
Food, food, food:
My teammates will vouch for the fact that I LOVE my food. While you may be craving that chocolate fix, making the right pick with your diet can really help with period woes. The right balance of protein, slow release carbs and loads of fruit/veg can keep your mood balanced. Energy packed food like nuts and fruit can stop that energy slump. Also, loads of water will keep your system chugging along well. Rules to live by anyway, but a good diet can make all the difference to a rubbish period!
P.S maybe a tiny bit of chocolate wouldn’t hurt?
The most important element of my journey into elite sport has been the inspirational women that stand by my side for every game. We are truly sisters in sport. I can trust these girls with my life. We all go through these things as women. No two experiences will be the same, so why not share them? If you spot your teammate struggling with cramps or PMT, a hug or a rant may be all it takes to take their mind off it.
Have confidence in your own body, and listen to it:
Your body will tell you if you are training too hard in the run up to or during your period. I have low blood pressure, so I’m prone to fainting. Because of that, it’s important for me to be disciplined during this time. I must really listen to my body, so I get the balance right. I can train to the best of my ability but also look after my body and mind. Periods are part of life, so if you feel comfortable doing what you do then go for it.
There’s so much truth in the fact that exercise can help with period pain. You just need to find the right type at the right time. It might be a walk with your dogs, a Zumba class or even a half-marathon. Getting moving wakes up your serotonin levels and can reduce that nagging pain. No-one can tell (unless you tell them!), no-one is judging you – they are all just experiencing you doing your thing as usual. So, go be awesome.”
Clare is currently in New Zealand representing Celtic Flames, a brand-new netball team from Wales. They are competing in the inaugural Netball New Zealand Super Club. She is an Assistant Psychologist from Swansea who now lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Clare has won an international cap for Wales. She is a training partner for Celtic Dragons, the only Welsh team in the prestigious Vitality Netball Superleague. Clare plays Wing Defence/Centre and played netball throughout university, also enjoying tennis and swimming. Her favourite motivational quote is “Lead by example”.