Ask the Experts: Movement, PMS, and PMDD

The more you start to work with your menstrual cycle, the more you’ll learn the ins and outs of each phase. Towards the end of the luteal phase, before the menstrual phase, many people experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). While these symptoms manifest differently in every body, they tend to be inflammatory responses—bloating, cramping, headaches, tiredness, and feelings of depression, moodiness, or irritability. The mere thought of working out might be too strenuous during times of PMS or PMDD symptoms.

But once you get a better sense of your own phases, you can work with them more effectively, too.

P.volve trainers Alexia Acebo, Maeve McEwan and Antonietta Vicario talk below about how to think about movement and exercise when you’re dealing with PMS or PMDD. 

Exercise and PMS Symptoms

“The more that you cultivate the skill of understanding your body, working with your hormones, really not overdoing it, allowing that rest, allowing that recovery, [you might find] that you are able to manage PMS with so much more ease,” says Antonietta. Gentler exercises are one way of honoring your body’s need to rest and recover, but the way you eat and sleep will also support this part of your cycle. 

In Phase & Function, the workouts at the end of the luteal phase are designed to wring out your body with reaches and rotations to promote circulation, which can help you feel good whether or not you have PMS symptoms.

PMS and exercise fatigue

It’s important to give yourself the grace to listen to your body and know when not to workout. When you’re forcing a workout, hormones like cortisol and adrenaline start spiking, says Antonietta. That’s where the mind-body connection comes in—if your body isn’t feeling good, and you judge yourself for not feeling good, you can actually make yourself feel worse.

“If we were just more gentle and kind and generous to ourselves, maybe then we would be managing and not creating this undue stress, which is leading to inflammation,” says Antonietta.

As you move through your cycle, you’ll experience energy shifts that may affect your exercise routine. In the first half, you have energy to spend, but after ovulation, you start winding down. The bloating, cramping, and joint aches are all inflammation, and learning what works for you is part of the journey.

A workout program to help manage PMS

For more on how to work with your menstrual cycle to help manage PMS and PMDD, check out our new exercise program Phase & Function. You’ll receive a personalized plan with phase-specific workouts, meal plans, and mindset shifts that work with each phase of your cycle.

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