Many studies have been conducted regarding training and nutrition, however most of these are quite general in nature and don’t take into consideration the changing hormone profile of women. The hormonal changes that occur can impact a female’s risk of injury and susceptibility to conditions such as osteoporosis.
Changes that occur during adolescence:
During puberty, increasing oestrogen levels cause changes in young female’s bodies. These changes include an increase in hip width which can contribute to knee-related conditions. It is important during this time that young female athletes focus on technique rather than loading, as overloading can increase risk of injury.
At this stage of adolescence, a physiotherapist can provide education around exercise loading, perform assessments for strength impairments and prescribe exercise to help reduce pain and prevent future injuries from occurring.
Appropriate physical activity and adequate nutrition are essential to achieve maximal bone density, which can assist in prevention of osteoporosis.
Throughout the menstrual years:
When a female is going through their natural menstrual cycle, we see a fluctuation of oestrogen and progesterone throughout the 4 stages: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. These hormones (progesterone and oestrogen) impact how a female responds and adapts to physical activity and also how well they recover.
It is important for female athletes to consider their training load and the different stage of their menstrual cycle they may be in. Particularly during the menstruation stage, women are at a greater risk of injury.
Considerations during menopause/post-menopause:
During menopause, fluctuations of oestrogen and progesterone continue to occur, again affecting how well females respond to training, adapt and recover.
It can be difficult for women to maintain lean muscle mass and bone/tendon health post-menopause as there is a decrease in oestrogen levels. During this time, strength training (especially with weights) becomes very important to ensure musculoskeletal structures are maintained.
How can a physiotherapist help?
At Back In Motion Kingston, we offer various exercise services that can assist women to achieve their goals and prevent their risk of future injuries, regardless of their age or life-stage. Book in for a Free Initial Assessment with one of our physiotherapists to find out what we can do for you!
Written by Erin Jeffrey (MPhysio, BApSci, APAM)