Chelsea become first club in the world to tailor training to menstrual cycles which could revolutionise women’s football
Feb. 14, 2020
Chelsea have become the first club in the world to tailor their training regimes around the menstrual cycles of their players.
The revolutionary move is designed to enhance performance and prevent injuries linked to menstruation.
The Blues are second in the Women’s Super League – one point behind leaders Manchester City – and have adapted individual programmes for players since August.
An exclusive report by The Telegraph has revealed that factoring in the menstrual cycle to training and nutrition patterns of each player has helped control the weight fluctuations of players during the cycle. It has also helped reduce susceptibility to soft tissue injuries linked to menstruation, such as anterior cruciate ligament damage.
Manager Emma Hayes is leading the ground-breaking scheme and wants to change the way in which female footballers are treated in relation to their male counterparts, especially given the lack of education surrounding such a crucial issue.
“It is fair to say, I am a female coach in an industry where women have always been treated like small men,” she said.
“The application of anything from rehab to strength and conditioning to tactical all come from the basis of what men do. The starting point is that we are women and, ultimately, we go through something very different to men on a monthly basis.
“And we have to have a better understanding of that because our education failed us at school; we didn’t get taught about our reproduction systems.
“It comes from a place of wanting to know more about ourselves and understanding how we can improve our performance.”
The innovative idea occurred to Hayes as she watched her team struggle against Arsenal in the 2016 FA Cup Final.
“We had a lot of players in and around their period for that game,” she added. “I remember watching players close the ball down and thinking everything was reactive and second-best. That was the starting point.”
The club are working in partnership with physiologist and international cross-country runner Dr Georgie Bruinvels after she met with Hayes last February to discuss her FitrWoman app which is designed for women to input information about their cycle.
With the consent of the players, the Chelsea coaches and management team can access this information from the app and tailor their training programmes accordingly.
There are four phases to the menstrual cycle; menstruation, pre-ovulation, the time between ovulation and premenstrual symptoms and the premenstrual phase itself. A player can lose co-ordination during phases one and four and often crave junk food during phases three and four, which can lead to weight fluctuations.
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