Once a taboo subject in our society, discussions of the menopause have historically been kept behind closed doors, but not anymore. More and more research is being conducted to understand and extract benefits from the relationship between sport and the menopause. Vic Williams, Archery GB’s Regional Development Officer for Wales, shares her tips on how to shoot through the menopause.
Menopause symptoms can have a profound effect on our archery. Poor sleep, headaches, aching joints, weight gain, sensitivity to light and the dreaded ‘brain-fog’ (inability to concentrate, focus and to remember things) are just a few of the symptoms that have affected my ability to enjoy archery. But there are things archers, clubs and tournament organisers can do to help those going through the menopause.
The importance of exercise at this time of life is well documented, but we might not always feel like hitting the gym or putting our trainers on and going for a run. Archery is a great way to maintain physical activity. Other archers I’ve chatted to say that yoga and Pilates have really benefited them, too. Find what works for you and build a routine you can stick to.
Being around friends, fellow competitors and just having a good laugh and a natter has to be one of the best ways to combat low mood and anxiety. You will have bad days occasionally but be kind to yourself and take the day off if you need to, or just go anyway and see how much better you feel afterwards.
In England we’re used to layering our clothing for all seasons, but its especially important when the hot flushes and the temperature fluctuations hit. You might find it more comfortable to bring a whole change of clothes.
Make yourself a menopause survival kit to take to competitions and club shoots. Stock it with pain killers, feminine hygiene products, cooling towels, a fan and plenty of drink. Don’t forget the most important thing: chocolate!
Adequate toilet facilities are key and can be the difference between participating or going home for many people at certain times of their monthly cycle. Does your venue have adequate facilities? Can members or competitors quickly access toilet facilities between ends? If not, then you may be putting a lot of archers at a disadvantage.
Menopause and its wide variety of symptoms aren’t something to be made to feel embarrassed about. Archery is such an inclusive sport, and people experiencing symptoms of menopause should also feel included and supported. If there is something at your club or at a competition that is causing you difficulties due to your symptoms, have a quiet word with those who can make some changes.