According to a group of scientists, there's a major gap in the way we currently study sports medicine. Namely, we're not studying enough women.
In an editorial published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a group of experts from the U.S. and the U.K. got together to discuss the major flaw in the way athletes and physical performance are studied. The vast majority of studies—where you might be looking for the latest on how to train smarter and stronger—focus on male participants. A review of more than 1,300 previous studies from 2011–2013 revealed just how bad the problem is: In a pool of more than 6 million people, only 39 percent were women.
And as if that's not bad enough, the paper blames the discrepancy on scientists not knowing how to handle that time of the month. WTF.
"The complexities of the menstrual cycle are considered major barriers to the inclusion of women in clinical trials," the authors say in their paper. They go on to explain that even when women are actually included in sports studies, researchers will often schedule their tests for the beginning of their cycles. (If you've ever tried to work out on a heavy day, you can probably understand why. Here are six ways to stop your menstrual cycle from ruining your workouts.) As a result, the scientific community is pretty much in the dark about how your period impacts your training routine. Sounds like pretty important stuff we're missing here?
The solution is twofold. Luckily, there is an upward trend in including more women in athlete research. But if you want to really get a grip on how menstruation might screw with your sweat sessions, more research needs to be done that takes a closer look at how your period impacts performance. (Here's what we do know about what your period means for your workout schedule.)
Come on lab coats, no more scheduling around our periods, OK? Until the research catches up, we'll leave these researchers in the wind while we break another PR (thank you very much).