Women’s menstrual cycles are credited and blamed for many things, and now research says they can increase their risk of injuries.
New research has found a woman’s risk of injuring her knees, feet and ankles is significantly heightened at the beginning and middle of her period.
Podiatrist Simon Bartold from the University of Melbourne said lower oestrogen levels at the beginning of women’s menstrual cycles reduced their muscle tone and coordination.
Then on day 14 of the cycle, oestrogen levels are at their peak and this increases the elasticity of the Achilles tendon and the risk of injury.
Two studies, involving 78 women, were conducted by the university over three years and the findings were recently published in medical journals.
There is good news for women who take the contraceptive pill, with injury rates less likely because the pill reduces the level of circulating oestrogen.
Mr Bartold said this research could prove useful for female athletes and coaches.
“If we understand these things we can finally put strategies in place to try to protect female athletes,” he said.
He said it also raised interesting questions about the role of the contraceptive pill in women’s sport.
“There’s now quite a global body of research saying that the pill actually is protective of injuries,” he said.
“It protects you from injuries, it improves performance, improves muscle function.”