Exercises To Manage Menstrual Pain

For all the women who stay home due to period pain, Anisha Naidu, wellness program specialist with expertise in core strength and conditioning has tips on how best to manage it.

PCOD/PCOS, endometriosis and other conditions can cause painful periods in women. While it may be a common occurrence, if it interferes with your daily lives, needs to be worked upon.

Exercises that can be done on and off the cycle through the year can do wonders for our uterine health. While the reasoning behind resting during periods makes sense and is necessary for our bodies to reset, it is also important to know that strengthening the uterus otherwise, plays a huge role in easing cramping during the cycle. Severe Symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) have known to been alleviated with good exercise and nutrition.

But first, let's understand why we get cramps during our menstrual cycle: The uterus is a muscle and when the uterine muscle contracts intensely, it can press against blood vessels momentarily cutting off Oxygen to the uterus leading to muscle cramps. Cardiovascular activity, strength training and Pilates/yoga help in keeping the symptoms to a minimum. It is recommended to perform very light exercises during the cycle owing to the excess blood flow and cramping. Here’s what you can do to relieve your pain:

  • Pelvic Floor Strengthening plays a huge role in alleviating period pain. The stronger the pelvic floor muscle, the better they release after contraction. Strong pelvic floor muscles not only reduce abdominal cramping, but they also reduce back pain, support the bladder, bowels and the uterus. The Kegels involve deep contracting the pelvic floor muscles. These can be done standing, seated or lying down. This action is similar to the action of stopping the urine flow or the passing of gas. The pelvic floor muscles consist of both the vaginal and anal muscles.

  • Diaphragmatic breathing is another effective practice that helps strengthen the abdominal wall which in turn reduces cramping during the cycle.

  • Some of the Pilates and Yoga poses are highly recommended during the cycle. Anything that puts pressure on the abdominal muscles, however, needs to be avoided.

  • A very healthy exercise and nutrition regimen through the year can help in balancing hormones, reducing period pain and regularising the cycle.

  • Walking, running, swimming and dance are good routines to improve blood circulation and lung strength.

  • Core Strength and Functional Training Exercises can help strengthen the muscles and thereby the ability to reduce menstrual cramping. Breathing during exercise helps in better oxygen input output, which in turn leads to healthy blood flow.

Yoga Poses that can be done during the cycle:

  1. Happy baby

  2. Baddha Konasana- Bound angle

  3. Supta Baddha Konasana -Reclined Bound angle

  4. Bhujangasana - Cobra pose

  5. Wide Angle Forward Fold

  6. Janu Shirshasana - Head to Knee Pose

  7. Paschimottanasana

  8. Cat and Cow Pose.

  9. Child's Pose

  10. Supine Spinal Twist

  11. Malasana - Garland Pose

  12. Goddess Pose

While these poses or exercises can help relieve menstrual cramping, intense holds or stretches can cause discomfort. It is therefore important to perform these poses mindfully with the intention to release the contracting muscles and not to work or contract them further.

Some exercises to avoid during periods are:

  1. Heavy weight training

  2. Cardio exercises like dancing

  3. Anything that involves jumping

Anisha Naidu can be reached on Instagram at https://instagram.com/cafeanish

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