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Different women experience pain differently during their periods. Period cramps are a part and parcel of every month for women, but they don’t have to be as painful. While you might turn to a blanket or a heating pad to relieve the pain, what if we tell you that there is another way to mitigate the pain.
As much as you would like to stay in bed and not move, one of the best ways to deal with period cramps is exercise! Some claim that exercise helps reduce menstrual cramps triggered by prostaglandins, which are active lipid compounds in our bodies. They restrict the blood vessels in the uterus, causing the muscle layer to contract, thus leading to painful menstrual cramps.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Manan Vora, Sports Medicine Expert and Orthopaedic Surgeon to know the exercises that can help reduce period cramps.
Exercises to reduce period cramps
Here are some exercises you could try the next time period cramps hit you:
Practicing yoga and stretches can help improve blood flow, thus releasing muscle tension and flexibility. Yoga combines meditation, structured breathing and stretches, all of which help with mindfulness and flexibility. Other internal Premenstrual Symptoms, such as anxiety and headaches, can also be managed via yoga. A simple forward bend, head-to-knee pose, and wide-angled forward bend can be done with little effort. When more comfortable with the basic stretches, the cobra pose, cat-cow pose, glute bridge and reclined bound angled pose could also be eased into to relieve the pain.
2. Aerobics and Pilates
Including aerobics or Pilates in your regimen for three weeks over the course of eight weeks is believed to mitigate period pain. The low-intensity movements would be easier when you are on your period. It would help build your core and reduce the pain by increasing blood flow as well.
3. Some weight training, jogging or walking
For those who aren’t too athletic but want to harness the power of exercise, they can stay active and help soothe cramps. Several studies have found that treadmill walking is effective in dealing with symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). You can do it according to your comfort level.
Do simple floor exercises such as the pelvic tuck, top taps, thigh dancing, glute lifts, the ‘Rockette’, reclined bound angle, the seated leg forward bend, and the seated twist. Look them up online or ask your trainer to guide you on your form till you get used to it.
If you are worried about intense exercises, have weak joints or just enjoy being in the water – swimming is the way for you! It will help reduce the intensity of period cramps but also their overall duration. Start by doing a warm up in the pool for 10 minutes, followed by 40-45 minutes of abdomen, pelvic, and thigh-focused exercises (water aerobics) and lastly, end with a 5-minute cool down.
A word from the expert on period pain management
This is not a comprehensive list. Nonetheless, it can be a good place to start if you are seeking low-impact workouts to ease cramps. Exercise and period discomfort is currently being studied and is still in the early stages. So, if you choose to start a new fitness regimen, pay special attention to your body. It could be time to discontinue that training routine if your pain doesn’t seem to improve. When in doubt, ask your general practitioner for advice.