The Independent

Chelsea become first football club in the world to tailor training to players’ menstrual cycle

The Independent

Chelsea Women has become the first club in the world to tailor their training schedule to the players’ menstrual cycles to enhance performance and reduce injury rates.  

Manager Emma Hayes has been the driving force behind the initiative after noticing that the players’ energy and mood was directly impacted by their cycle. 

Ms Hayes, who has seen the team get to second in the Women’s Super League this season, told The Telegraph that for too long women’s teams had been trained in the same way as their male counterparts, which meant their performance wasn’t being optimised. 

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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.”

The new regime will tailor training and nutrition programmes to help control weight and energy fluctuations throughout the month as well as reduce susceptibility to soft tissue injuries, which have been linked to hormonal changes.

The players have been encouraged to download the FitrWoman app, developed by international cross-country runner Dr Georgie Bruinvels, which allows them to log and monitor the four phases of their cycle: menstruation, pre-ovulation, ovulation, premenstrual.

Then, with the consent of the players, this information is shared with the club and informs their training. 

For example, in phases one and four Hayes noticed the women’s coordination is impaired and in phases three and four they are more likely to gain weight as they crave junk food. The women are also reportedly at a higher risk of inflammatory injury in phases one and two, according to Dr Bruinvels. 

“The menstrual cycle is an inflammatory process and excess inflammation can result in an injury,” said Dr Bruinvels. “It’s not solely down to high levels of oestrogen, but tracking the cycle is also very important in terms of bone-injury risk.”

Shape Created with Sketch. 10 quotes from women that defined the decade

Show all 10

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Shape Created with Sketch. 10 quotes from women that defined the decade

1/10 Malala Yousafzai

“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” United Nations Youth Assembly, New York, 2013

Getty Images

2/10 Michelle Obama

“Whether it was during my time as a lawyer, as an administrator at a university, a nonprofit manager, even now as First Lady, I’ve never once asked someone I was interviewing to explain a test score or a grade in a class — never. I’ve never once made a hire just because someone went to an Ivy League school instead of a state school — never. What I have looked for is what kind of person you are. Are you a hard worker? Are you reliable? Are you open to other viewpoints? Have you stepped outside of your own self-interest to serve others? Have you found a way to serve our country, whether in uniform or in your community?” Commencement address at Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky, 2013

Getty

3/10 Emma Watson

“I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.” United Nations, New York, 2014

Getty Images

4/10 Patricia Arquette

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all.” Academy Awards, California, 2015

Getty Images

5/10 Hillary Clinton

“All the evidence tells us that despite the enormous obstacles that remain, there has never been a better time in history to be born female. But the data leads to a second conclusion: That despite all this progress, we’re just not there yet.” Women in The World Summit, New York, 2015

Getty Images

6/10 Gloria Steinem

“We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected. God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections. We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up.” Women’s March in Washington DC, 2017

Getty Images

7/10 Oprah Winfrey

“So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again. Thank you.” Golden Globe Awards, California, 2018

NBCUniversal via Getty Images

8/10 Emma Gonzalez

“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” March for Our Lives rally, Washington DC, 2018

Getty Images

9/10 Tarana Burke

“So much of what we hear about the Me Too Movement is about individual bad actors or depraved, isolated behavior, and it fails to recognize that anybody in a position of power comes with privilege, and it renders those without that power more vulnerable. Teachers and students, coaches and athletes, law enforcement and citizen, parent and child: these are all relationships that can have an incredible imbalance of power. But we reshape that imbalance by speaking out against it in unison and by creating spaces to speak truth to power. We have to reeducate ourselves and our children to understand that power and privilege doesn’t always have to destroy and take — it can be used to serve and build. And we have to re-educate ourselves to understand that, unequivocally, every human being has the right to walk through this life with their full humanity intact.” Ted Women, California, 2018

Getty Images for Comedy Central

10/10 Greta Thunberg

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.” UN Climate Summit, New York, 2019

Getty Images

1/10 Malala Yousafzai

“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” United Nations Youth Assembly, New York, 2013

Getty Images

2/10 Michelle Obama

“Whether it was during my time as a lawyer, as an administrator at a university, a nonprofit manager, even now as First Lady, I’ve never once asked someone I was interviewing to explain a test score or a grade in a class — never. I’ve never once made a hire just because someone went to an Ivy League school instead of a state school — never. What I have looked for is what kind of person you are. Are you a hard worker? Are you reliable? Are you open to other viewpoints? Have you stepped outside of your own self-interest to serve others? Have you found a way to serve our country, whether in uniform or in your community?” Commencement address at Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky, 2013

Getty

3/10 Emma Watson

“I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.” United Nations, New York, 2014

Getty Images

4/10 Patricia Arquette

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all.” Academy Awards, California, 2015

Getty Images

5/10 Hillary Clinton

“All the evidence tells us that despite the enormous obstacles that remain, there has never been a better time in history to be born female. But the data leads to a second conclusion: That despite all this progress, we’re just not there yet.” Women in The World Summit, New York, 2015

Getty Images

6/10 Gloria Steinem

“We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected. God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections. We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up.” Women’s March in Washington DC, 2017

Getty Images

7/10 Oprah Winfrey

“So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again. Thank you.” Golden Globe Awards, California, 2018

NBCUniversal via Getty Images

8/10 Emma Gonzalez

“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” March for Our Lives rally, Washington DC, 2018

Getty Images

9/10 Tarana Burke

“So much of what we hear about the Me Too Movement is about individual bad actors or depraved, isolated behavior, and it fails to recognize that anybody in a position of power comes with privilege, and it renders those without that power more vulnerable. Teachers and students, coaches and athletes, law enforcement and citizen, parent and child: these are all relationships that can have an incredible imbalance of power. But we reshape that imbalance by speaking out against it in unison and by creating spaces to speak truth to power. We have to reeducate ourselves and our children to understand that power and privilege doesn’t always have to destroy and take — it can be used to serve and build. And we have to re-educate ourselves to understand that, unequivocally, every human being has the right to walk through this life with their full humanity intact.” Ted Women, California, 2018

Getty Images for Comedy Central

10/10 Greta Thunberg

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.” UN Climate Summit, New York, 2019

Getty Images

The idea to sync the menstrual cycle with training came to Ms Hayes, who suffers with endometriosis (which the NHS describes as a chronic condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places such as ovaries or fallopian tubes), during the 2016 FA Cup Final against Arsenal. 

It was reported that coaches for the US national team tracked their cycles during the World Cup in France but Chelsea have become the first team to do it in day-to-day training.

“These players are going to be the first generation of women who are well educated about their menstrual cycle and they will spread that knowledge as far as they possibly can and we hope that becomes a culture within every football club in the world,” said Ms Hayes.

Sophie Gallagher The Independent

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