Is the menstrual cycle finally factored into the race for top performance?

Hop, no more than 152 grams of pasta tonight. Yes, after that you will sleep for a full night, a minimum of eight hours and twenty minutes. Is it better to put goose or duck feathers on the pillow to make it easier to fall asleep? Nutrition, recovery, bodybuilding, training volume… In high-level sports, with data, everything is now calculated very precisely so that the athlete can perfectly support the performance. But one information is still far from the concern of the technical staff: the menstrual cycle of female athletes.

“We are late on the subject,” says Nodjialem Myaro, president of the Women’s Handball League. So, to compensate for this “delay”, LFH and its partner Lidl organized a conference on the subject in Paris on Wednesday. The goal: “To raise awareness and be able to talk about it freely, so that young people do not see the menstrual cycle as a problem and be the first door to integrate it into performance,” adds the world champion. With the Blues in 2003.

“We are not talking about what is experienced as weakness”

According to the research conducted by the Ministry of Sports, 84% of female athletes experience their period as a problem. More than a third of the people interviewed admit that they do not talk about it at all, and 50% admit that they talk about it sometimes. However, this has a real impact on performance. Eating disorders, bloating, breast pain, headaches, cramps, mood and sleep disorders, poor stress management… “We need to feel successful in sports and not talk about what is experienced as a weakness,” explains gynecologist Carole Maitre. and a sports doctor at Insep.

Camille Comte, Maëlys Kouaya, Melvine Deba and Manon Loquay (left to right) – A. Huot de Saint Albin / 20 MINUTES

“For the first forty-eight hours I was in a rather nervous mood, I had stomach cramps, says Manon Loquay, who plays for Neptunes in Nantes. I take Antadys for training. It affects performance. First of all, I’m tired, tired, training I don’t want to.According to a study conducted by Insep researcher Juliana Antero on a women’s soccer team, the more menstrual symptoms players had, the slower they ran (10% less speed) and the more pain they experienced. [musculaires, osseuses…].

Coaches must be trained

While the topic is sometimes discussed informally among players in the dressing room within clubs, it is rarely the case with sports governing bodies. Bourg-de-Péage coach Camille Comte, who attended the conference, said: “We were not aware of the issue. It deserves to be trained. We have to worry about it because it has an impact on performance. The players say it does not stop them from training, but the high perception of pain “They have to do it. Sometimes they go too far because that’s their job.”

Some of them prefer to pull chained ruquettes and schabala on the parquet floor than to stay still on the couch during menstruation. “It helps me to play sports, knows Maëlys Kouaya, who plays at Plan de Coques. I don’t feel well outside the field, my back hurts. But once in training, it gets better and disappears. Obviously, feelings are different for women. But Carole Maitre insists on not minimizing the pain:

Moderate and severe pain must be evaluated and supervised by a doctor. There is enough to care for, sometimes mildly, even with homeopathy, to make it bother as little as possible. Endometriosis is often diagnosed too late. It sometimes takes more than seven years before a diagnosis is made. And it’s important to talk about it, because endometriosis also affects teenagers. Don’t think that menstrual cramps are inevitable. »

“Understanding the Effects of Different Phases of the Cycle”

“Training with menstrual symptoms will be of lower quality than training with musculoskeletal injuries. [qui permettent quand même de s’entraîner] Juliana Antero says. According to the testimony of handball players and specialists, the technician was able to realize that the physical work performed by one of the players to increase the muscle mass did not give any results, because it was done at the wrong time.

Juliana Antero: “It is more appropriate to increase muscle mass after the period, until the ovulation period. In the individual training of the players, the influence of the different stages of the menstrual cycle must be understood and taken into account. “The message got through to Camille Comte anyway:” Doing the right sessions at the right times of the cycle can help performance “It’s a controllable parameter for me, like nutrition.”

To help her and all trainers, LFH should soon offer a special topic for women in training. In addition, each elite club has an ambassador (player or staff member). Later, a conference will be organized in regions, clubs, especially in training centers to draw the attention of young people to the topic. Finally, in 2023, Lidl will provide free periodic security in the changing rooms and toilets of the Women’s League clubs’ gyms.

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