Performance and Recovery Needs of the Female Athlete.


IT HAS been a long journey, and for a few sports, there is still a way to go.   

But female athletes are being treated more equally to their male counterparts, than ever before.   

However Women and Girls have very different performace and recovery requirments and we hope to empower and inform through our Equal - different campaign.

To coincide with international Womens Day










We will support as many competitors who want to know more about their athletic needs, providing information, product and assistance through our science team lead by our Head Nutritionist Marie Farag.

If you would like to speak to us about your Performance and Recovery strategies, contact our Science Team, lead by Marie Farag: at

Totum Sport is honoured to work with the brilliant Irish Hockey star Roisin Upton for this campaign. Roisin is one of the highest achieving sports stars in the country, a World Cup Finalist and the hero of Ireland’s Olympic Games Playoff with her winning penalty against Canada to qualify for Tokyo 2020. 

Peak performance for Roisin Upton, is being able to train, perform and recover at an optimal level, and she will talk us through some of her career highlights as well as her conditioning strategies for elite level sport. 



What are the main differences between the Female and Male Athlete? 

One of the biggest factors impacting performance in female athletes is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) as it negatively impacts progression in training.  Males and females differ in many ways including body size and composition and how they think and feel. The hormones testosterone and oestrogen have a role to play, affecting muscle mass and body fat percentage. It has also been found that the risk of muscle cramp, DOMS and injuries (such as ACL injuries) is far higher in females to males.   

Mollayeva et al showed that there are higher rates of concussion in females compared to males in sex comparable sports however the trend is not completely understood. Data also shows higher symptom loads long term after concussion in females compared to males. Post-concussive symptoms of fatigue, alertness and daytime sleepiness showed more severe fatigue, lower alertness and higher daytime sleepiness in women to men. This shows that gender-sex interactions determine severity. 

How does the menstrual cycle affect performance? 

The menstrual cycle is hormonal driven and is a major factor impacting female athletes. Each cycle lasts 21-35 days and flow is approximately 2-7 days. An irregular cycle is when cycle length varies by more than a few days or when there is excessive blood loss or severe symptoms during the cycle.   

The menstrual cycle can affect performance in a number of ways. This is due to the many symptoms that females often suffer from during their cycle and the effects of changing hormone levels which can cause complications in training and performance.  

Minerals including zinc, iron and magnesium are essential for the female athlete as they are involved in a range of different enzymatic reactions in the body. Low levels of zinc can affect hormone production whilst iron requirements increase during the menstrual cycle. 

Whilst these individual elements have their own specific functions in the body, they do not work on their own and need at least 20 other minerals and trace elements for optimal absorption and metabolism in the body. Totum Sport is the only sports supplement that provides each of these elements and in the correct proportions, supporting the health of the female athlete, especially during ovulation when requirements increase. 

The three stages of the menstrual cycle are follicular (before the release of the egg), ovulatory (egg release) and luteal (after egg release). 

Some symptoms that occur leading up to and during menstruation include; premenstrual syndrome (PMS)/ period pains, stomach and leg cramps, back pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, water retention, poor concentration, cravings, fatigue, changes in mood, anxiety, sleep disruption, lack of coordination, weakness and confusion.  

The electrolytes in Totum Sport are in a bioavailable form- this has a rapid and immediate effect, supporting hydration at the cellular level. This is extremely beneficial as many symptoms can worsen due to dehydration including cramps, and digestive issues. Totum Sport is the only sports solution that enables complete hydration in the body as it contains all the trace elements which enable the cells to hold on to water so that it has a more physiological effect in the body. Many symptoms can also occur due to mineral imbalances including muscle pain and cramp from imbalances of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Totum Sport ensures that each of these elements is present and in the correct concentrations to work effectively in the body.   

The different stages of the menstrual cycle impact performance and recovery as sleep patterns and adaptation to resistance training is affected e.g adaptation to resistance training increases during the follicular phase whilst a late follicular phase may support optimal performance (Sung et al, 2014). Totum Sport provides all 78 electrolytes in a 100% natural form without any unwanted sugars or chemicals that often worsen symptoms for female athletes.   

There are also effects of the ovarian hormones- affecting learning, processing and nutrient metabolism e.g progesterone increases the breakdown of protein. The correct balance of the minerals needed for hormone  production is provided in Totum Sport. This also aids the absorption and metabolism of other nutrients in the body including vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids. 

Whilst symptoms of the menstrual cycle can impact performance, having a normal, regular cycle is important for overall health, signifying that the athlete has sufficient energy to be in hormonal balance for a healthy reproductive state (Gaskins et al, 2012).  

amanda lightfoot

How does the menstruation impact recovery?

Muscle damage and sleep disruption due to menstruation can increase recovery time, increasing the risk of illness and infection and worsening underlying injuries for females.   

Menstrual dysfunction is common, with 81% of women regularly experiencing symptoms and 44% of women regularly using medication to treat their symptoms. Some symptoms include endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), amenorrhoea (loss of periods) and pre-menopausal symptoms. It has been reported that the prevalence of amenorrhoea is up to 69% in some sports (Nazem and Ackerman, 2012).   

Increased inflammation pre-menopause is often associated with symptoms known as pre-menopausal symptoms (PMS). Lifestyle factors including nutrition and hydration can help to reduce inflammation and therefore help combat the onset and severity of these symptoms. Essential fatty acids (EFA) such as Omega-3 is important for anti-inflammatory effects. 

Omegabiocell369 is a 100% plant-based Omega oil that provides the highest concentration of Omega-3,6 and 9 and in an ultra-pure. This can be added to foods to provide an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and help regulate the balance of fatty acids to aid cellular communication and function.   

A balanced diet with sufficient intake of macronutrients and nutrient-dense foods, high in antioxidants can support the female athlete. Hydration and recovery are key to supporting overall health and aiding performance. Adequate intake of key nutrients including, minerals and trace elements, B vitamins and the correct balance of essential fatty acids provide additional support to reduce symptoms.   

B vitamins are required by the body to make neurotransmitters which are involved in the pathophysiology of PMS. Chocano-Bedoya, 2011 found a significantly lower risk of PMS in women with higher intakes of thiamine and riboflavin from food. 

Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 are required for cell membrane structure and fluidity and hormone production. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the psychiatric symptoms of PMS including depression, nervousness, anxiety, and lack of concentration and can also aid with bloating and headaches (Sohrabi et al, 2013).   

Omegabiocell369 contains a unique composition of four different plant oils. This provides the highest concentration of Omega-3,6 and 9 and in an ultra-pure form due to the unique patented bio ester technology that includes a four-step purification process. This is important as each fatty acid needs to be present in the correct ratio for optimal cellular function in the body. This is the only Omega oil on the market created using this bio ester technology which changes the structure of the fatty acids from triglycerides to ethyl esters. Ethyl esters have a much simpler structure and are much smaller in size in comparison to triglycerides. This means they are easily absorbed and stay in the cell for longer to exert beneficial health effects.   

Omegabiocell369 converts Omega-3 ALA into controlled amounts of EPA and DHA not flooding the cells with excess amounts as with other products. This is the only Omega oil providing Omega-3,6 and 9 in an ultra-pure form and it can, therefore, be safely used as a daily Omega supplement to support health and vitality (with no build-up of toxins) whilst speeding up the recovery process, reducing inflammation in the body. 

Minerals and Trace Elements 

Whilst required in small amounts, minerals and trace elements are vital for cellular health. They are involved in a range of different enzymatic processes enabling each cell, organ and bodily system to function optimally, supporting the entire body.   

Totum Sport is the only 100% natural marine-based mineral supplement providing all 78 electrolytes required by the cells. Totum Sport is rapidly absorbed by the cells for quick remineralisation. Without replenishing the full spectrum of electrolytes there is an increased risk of dehydration, cramp and fatigue. This can become even more apparent during menstruation when there is an increased loss of certain minerals including iron and magnesium- which is why there is often a higher onset of cramps and other symptoms during this period. Totum Sport is the only electrolyte supplement that contains the full spectrum of electrolytes and in a bioavailable form- enabling each one to be absorbed and metabolised optimally in the body at the cellular level. This enables enhanced recovery before, during and after training. 

The full spectrum of bioavailable electrolytes promotes cellular nourishment and hydration. By supporting the body at the cellular level, this aids each aspect of health as each and every organ and bodily system is made up of cells. This provides the foundation for health and enables food, water and other supplements that are consumed to be better absorbed and used by the body. 


Whilst nutrition and hydration aids health, performance and recovery it also supports gut health, aiding mental health. Stress management, mindfulness, psychological support and sufficient sleep are crucial to support the athlete mentally. This is why we provide access to 87%, an app-based tool which helps to address the psychological elements of wellness. 87% can be used at any time to help manage and reduce stress levels and help create awareness of lifestyle patterns that may be contributing to stress. Using the app daily helps to track progress in your mental wellness. 


Each individual factor does not work alone which is why we provide a package that supports each and every aspect of your health, at the cellular- ensuring continual performance and peak performance.   

Totum Sport is the only 100% natural, marine-based solution containing all 78 vital electrolytes that cells require. As it is harvested from nature each electrolyte is present in the correct proportions and in a bioavailable form so that each one can be absorbed and work effectively in the body.  Totum Sport maximises recovery by providing each cell with the full spectrum of trace elements, which are required to hold water in the cells, enabling complete hydration at the cellular level. This helps reduce DOMS as water and electrolyte stores can be replenished quickly and effectively.  


Ireland looked dead and buried in the penalty shootout for a win that would see her country qualify for their first ever Olympic Games.

The two playoffs v Canada in Dublin last November ended in draws and so the match would be decided by a penalties.

Ireland, the World Cup finalists had been hot favourites to go through, and penalties definitely weren’t in the plan according to Upton.

“When it goes to a shoot, you know, it's 50/50. I suppose when we have the best goalkeeper in the world, in our eyes, it might give you a little bit of a psychological edge,” Roisin Upton told

“So, I stepped up third, the pressure is on and I didn’t execute and we were down 3-1.

Canada now had two opportunities to win the shootout, and miraculously, or thanks to the incredible prowess of the world’s best goalkeeper - Ayeisha McFerran - and two successful scores by Beth Barr and Chloe Watkins, it went to sudden death.

Incredibly, and despite missing her penalty, Ireland’s Coach Sean Dancer asked Upton to take the first penalty.

“Typically we come together as group of five and we'd say, who feels good? And it's the girls that have scored that might go again,” continued Upton.

“But when he backed me, I suppose, you know, it's split-second decision and you have to back yourself.

“And if you're given the opportunity to step up and take a shoot-out to take your team to Tokyo.”

Sport is as much about the mind as the body and for Upton it was a moment in time as she became aware of every sound in the stadium in Donnybrook.

“During a shoot-out, it's hard not to be aware, you do hear the crowd and you do hear the ‘Oh's’ and ‘Ah’s’ after each shot and the cheers.

“So it was a real split-second decision. He said it to me and immediately I thought, great, yeah, let's do it.

“Who gets a chance to redeem themselves?

“When you score your first one, you're not guaranteed to score your second one. So when you miss your first one, you're not guaranteed to miss your second one.

“So that, it didn't enter my head. I felt confident and I thought, yeah, let's go for it. And again, I didn’t execute fantastically well.

 “I was trying to take it wide of the goalie and, you know, just about stayed on the pitch, and I nearly ran out of at a time, but I snuck it in in the near post.”

And the rest is history.

It transpired following the game that Roisin had fractured her wrist during the match, as the World Cup silver medalist made a long pass. 

Suffering from "unbelievable pain" throughout adds only to the magnificence of her heroics.   



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