Top 11 Exercises for Alleviating Menstrual Cramps
Top 11 Exercises for Alleviating Menstrual Cramps
When it's that time of the month again, you might find yourself wrapped up in a blanket, using a heating pad to combat period cramps. And it's completely understandable if you prefer to stay still and cozy. However, if you're open to a bit of physical activity, rest assured that there are numerous gentle and low-impact options available. In fact, some of them may even provide relief from the pain.
Undoubtedly, period cramps can make it challenging to engage in physical activity, acknowledges Sasha Mihovilovic, a master trainer at AKT workout studio. However, she emphasizes that exercise actually helps improve circulation, which can alleviate muscle soreness. Alayna Curry, an AFAA-certified fitness trainer and founder of Workout With Mom, adds that even a little movement can boost your mood and facilitate better sleep-both of which are a blessing when you're experiencing discomfort. If you've been struggling with PMS symptoms and find yourself lying awake, a gentle yoga session or a leisurely walk might be just what you need.
During your period, it's important to focus on stretches, gentle workouts, and exercises that specifically target your lower abdomen. Opting for low-impact and moderate-intensity exercises is generally recommended during this time, according to Curry. It's not the moment to push yourself with intense HIIT classes or heavy weightlifting sessions. So, why not slide off the couch and give these moves a go?
Glute BridgesHere's a recommended exercise from Curry to stretch and strengthen your lower back muscles, which can become tense and cramped during your period:
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. - Gradually lift your hips off the ground, raising your buttocks towards the sky.
- Hold this position for a second.
- Slowly lower your hips back down.
- Repeat this sequence for a total of 4 sets, with 12 repetitions in each set.
Long WalkTaking a leisurely 20 to 30-minute walk can be an effective method to alleviate bloating and pain during your period. According to Dr. Kristina Kehoe, PT, DPT, a board-certified specialist in women's health, going for a walk at a comfortable pace can not only improve blood circulation but also trigger the release of endorphins, which are known as "feel-good" hormones.
Put on a pair of sneakers and set aside 20 to 30 minutes, or even longer if possible, for your walk. This simple activity can help reduce bloating and alleviate pain, providing you with some much-needed relief during your menstrual cycle.
Kehoe also suggests incorporating this popular yoga pose into your routine. "This exercise focuses on stretching the posterior chain, which can feel tight during menstruation," she explains. You don't need to change into leggings for this one—your sweatpants will work just fine.
- Lift your hips upward, pressing them towards the sky.
- Lower your heels as far as you comfortably can.
- Relax your head and neck, allowing them to hang freely.
- Hold this pose for 3 to 5 deep breaths.
If you're experiencing PMS symptoms and prefer to stay in bed, this gentle stretch can provide relief for your abdomen and back. Dr. Kristina Kehoe recommends this relaxing exercise:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the bed.
- Slowly lower both knees to one side.
- Allow your head to turn in the opposite direction.
- Hold this position for 3 to 5 counts.
- Repeat the movement 3 to 5 times on each side.
Take your time with this stretch and stay in the position for as long as necessary to experience the desired comfort and relaxation.
Soji James, a certified personal trainer at the wellness performance company 1AND1, suggests incorporating a brief aerobic exercise session to alleviate bothersome cramps. According to James, research indicates that increasing your heart rate also boosts endorphin levels, leading to an improved mood and pain relief.
One option is to hop on an elliptical machine and maintain a steady pace until you feel ready to finish. Alternatively, you can try incorporating short bursts of high-intensity interval training. However, it's important to avoid pushing yourself too hard if you're feeling lethargic during your period. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity accordingly.
Surprisingly, relieving tension in your feet can potentially help alleviate cramps. Sasha Mihovilovic explains that our feet often hold hormones and stress, so taking a moment to release tension in that area can be beneficial.
Here's how to do it:
- Sit in an upright position on your knees with your toes tucked under.
- Hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds to stretch the ligaments and fascia in your feet.
- Shake out your feet and repeat the process 2 to 3 times.
By stretching and releasing tension in your feet, you may find some relief from period cramps. Give it a try and see if it works for you.
Child’s Pose To Cobra
Mihovilovic suggests this combination of stretches to target your lower back, psoas, and abdominal wall:- Begin by kneeling on the floor. - Sit your hips back and extend your arms forward, entering into child's pose.
- Take 2 to 3 deep breaths in this position.
- Place your palms flat on the floor.
- Transition into a cobra stretch by lifting your upper body while keeping your palms on the floor.
- Take 2 to 3 deep breaths in the cobra stretch.
- Return to child's pose, allowing your arms to rest back at your sides.
- Stay in this position for 1 minute, taking deep breaths.
By incorporating these stretches into your routine, you can effectively stretch and relieve tension in your lower back, psoas, and abdominal muscles. Remember to focus on your breath and listen to your body as you perform these exercises.
Jake Dickson, a certified personal trainer, recommends this exercise to enhance blood circulation in the lower back:- Position your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Gradually lift your hips off the floor, paying attention to each vertebra separately.
- Repeat the motion of raising and lowering your hips for two minutes.
By performing this exercise, you can increase blood flow to your lower back, which can help alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation. Take your time and maintain a steady rhythm as you lift and lower your hips.
Michele Riechman, a personal trainer, suggests this straightforward yoga movement to alleviate tension in the abdominal and back muscles. The cat-cow pose not only increases spinal mobility but also helps to calm the nervous system, which is crucial during times of discomfort.- Begin in a quadruped position with your back in a neutral alignment.
- Inhale deeply and drop your belly towards the floor while looking upward.
- Expand your torso with the breath.
- Exhale slowly, tucking your chin to your chest and rounding your spine.
- Completely release the breath.
- Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times, coordinating your breath with each movement.
By practicing the cat-cow pose, you can provide relief to your abdominal and back muscles while enhancing the flexibility of your spine. Remember to focus on your breath and move in a gentle, fluid motion.
If you've been avoiding the swimming pool during your period, now’s the time to wear the best priod swimwear and dive in. Swimming is a gentle and low-impact exercise that can effectively alleviate cramps and bloating, according to Mary Sabat, an ACE-certified personal trainer and registered dietitian. Additionally, the natural buoyancy of the water can relieve pressure on your joints and muscles, making exercise more comfortable. Take a deep breath and enjoy the soothing benefits of swimming during your period.
If you're looking for a gentle exercise routine to alleviate period cramps, consider trying a round of Pilates. You can find numerous 10-minute Pilates workouts on YouTube that suit your needs. Pilates is a low-impact exercise that combines strength training with stretching, providing a balanced workout. A specific move you can start with is the classic "one hundreds" exercise.- Lie on your back.
- Lift your legs and head off the ground.
- Bend your knees and reach for your toes.
- Engage your abdominal muscles.
- Begin pumping your arms up and down.
- Inhale for five arm pumps and exhale for five pumps, continuing until you reach a count of 100.