How To Make Jiu-Jitsu Suck Less When You’re On Your Period

Photo Source: Issys Calderon Photography

My duderuses, let’s talk about uteruses. Mostly, let’s talk about how much it sucks to train when it feels like there’s an actual grizzly bear trying to claw its way out of your womb. When you’re bloated, cramping, and exhausted, it’s hard to think of anything you’d like to do less than fold your body a hundred different ways and get knee-on-bellied by the heavyweight in class. But if you insist on giving a whole new meaning to the term “flow roll”, here’s what you can do to make it a bit easier:

Invest in a menstrual cup. Honestly, these things are great even if you don’t do jiu-jitsu. They’re way more eco-friendly and wallet-friendly than pads or tampons, and you can leave them in for up to twelve hours at a time. As an added bonus for jiujiteiras, they’re also super flexible and conform to your body, which means you won’t have to deal with that feeling of being stabbed by your tampon when you invert. Leaks are also much less likely, and because they suction to the inside of you, you won’t have to worry about anything shifting around no matter how intense your rolls get.

Layer up. Putting on more tight clothes might sound like the opposite of what you’d want to do when you’re on your period, but if you’re worried about leaks or any smell your drilling partner might encounter when you get them in a triangle, it could help put your mind at ease. If you normally only train with gi pants over your underwear, consider putting on some thick spats or compression shorts. They won’t serve as an impenetrable wall, but they’ll add another line of defense if things go wrong.

Hydrate and take pain medication ahead of time. There’s nothing like getting hit with cramps from hell while you’re in the middle of class and having to wait an excruciating twenty minutes for your Midol to kick in. If you’re cramping or experiencing backaches that you know will likely get worse in a few hours, go through your pain management routine before you train so you don’t get the worst of it when it’s least convenient. Upping your water intake before you start to sweat can also help you feel less sluggish and sick when you’re exerting yourself.

Go easy on yourself. No one in their right mind would blame you for skipping physical activity altogether while you’re on your period, especially during those first couple days. Making it to the gym is a feat in itself, so if you feel like you’re on death’s door while you’re rolling, take breaks or ask your partners if you can roll light. The endorphins that we get through exercise can work wonders during the time of the month you’re most miserable, but it’s not worth making yourself pass out from pain or exhaustion.

Eat healthy. A lot of jiu-jitsu athletes normally maintain a healthy diet, but when you’re hormonal and hungry, chocolate always sounds better than salad. Indulge in some ice cream (or a lot of ice cream) if you feel like you’ll go crazy otherwise, but also up your intake of vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens that are high in iron. You’ll be able to train with more energy and a better mood if your body is properly fueled.

These tips apply to anyone who has to deal with the menstruation monster, but they’re that much more important for those of us who push our bodies to the limit when they already feel like crap. If you really feel like you can’t train, don’t. But if you’re a BJJ addict who wants to shed the problems that come with shedding your uterine lining, these suggestions can stop That Time Of The Month from tapping you out.


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