New research has demonstrated that the sudden change in hormone levels that a woman experiences during her menstrual cycle can make them more prone to developing muscle injuries. The study indicates that the sudden rising and falling of estrogen and relaxin during different times of the month can actually weaken the ligaments and muscles, making women more likely to experience injury.
Portland Hospital in London tracked 17 women that experience what is considered to be “regular” menstrual cycles. The researchers found that these women experienced a sudden drop in their estrogen levels in the middle of their cycle. Since estrogen is responsible for strengthening ligaments and muscles, it makes sense that a drop in these levels makes injury more likely.
The research also found that relaxin rises as around the 24th to 26th days of the cycle, as it approaches its end. The body increases the levels of this hormone in order to help open the cervix for menstruation to occur. This also causes a relaxation of the ligaments, which can cause problems with the neck and lower back.
In light of this research, those involved with the study hope that female athletes can create a training routine that makes them less likely to be injured by working around their menstrual cycle. Taking a combined contraceptive pill can also help avoid risk, as these pills help keep hormonal levels fairly consistent.