Exercise for Period Cramps
Periods can induce different symptoms in different women. It includes fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, mood swings, and many other symptoms. In some cases, they can become pretty extreme; experts then suggest trying different yoga poses and exercises for period cramps.
You may feel a little low energy due to bleeding and cramps, so avoid heavy exercise. Instead, try yoga and breathing exercises for periods cramps. They also reduce pain, stress, and other menstrual symptoms.
As per a study, yoga can reduce menstrual cramps and relieve Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Here are the seven best yoga poses and exercises for period cramps.
Seven Yoga Poses for Period Cramps
1. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose
- Lie down on the stomach.
- Keep the legs straight and feet together.
- Now, place your palms under the shoulder on the floor.
- Push yourself using your hands.
- Lift the head, shoulders, and belly off the floor.
- Keep your neck straight and gaze forward. You have to lift the belly completely off the floor to do a full cobra pose.
- Breathe and hold the pose as long as you can.
- Now relax and move back to the original position.
- Repeat at least 2-3 times.
Benefits: The cobra pose stimulates abdominal muscles. It is a backbend that stretches the front abdomen muscles and tones the back muscles. It relieves back pain and anxiety, and improves mood as suggested by a study. As per another study, yoga positions also help women during menopause by improving the quality of their life.
2. Bitilasana or Cow pose
- Get on your knees and hands. The hips should be above knees and hands ahead of shoulders.
- Take a deep breath and arch the back by lowering the belly and broadening the collarbones and shoulders.
- Keep the back of your neck long and hold the pose for as long as you can.
- Return to the neutral spine and release the pose.
Benefits: The pose relieves tension from the upper body, back, and spine. It relieves period-induced anxiety and manages stress. It also calms you down and improves your mood.
3. Matsyasana or Fish Pose
- Lie on your back.
- Keep knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Lift the pelvis and slide down palms and hands below the buttocks.
- Tuck your forearms and elbow close to the torso.
- Inhale and lift the upper body and head from the floor.
- Release the head back into the floor while arching the back and lifting the chest.
- Avoid neck crunching by keeping less weight on the head. You can keep the knee bent or straight out the legs.
- Hold them for 20-30 seconds.
- Exhale while slowly releasing the pose.
Benefits: The reclining backbend fish exercise for period cramps stretches your hips, abdomen, and chest muscles. It helps with period-induced fatigue and revives the body's energy. It also relieves menstrual pain and mild backaches.
4. Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose or Butterfly Pose or Cobbler's Pose
- Sit with the back and neck straight.
- Keep your legs straight.
- Bend the knee while bringing the soles of feet together.
- Hold the feet with your hands and press the shoulder blade against the upper back.
- Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds and take deep breaths.
- Release the breath while relaxing the feet and knees.
Benefits: Uterus contracts during menstruation, which leads to either constipation or diarrhoea. The baddha konasana pose soothes the digestive organs and also relieves menstrual cramps. The pose also stimulates the ovaries and revives the body's energy levels during periods.
If you feel anxious during periods, you can modify the pose and lean backward instead of forward. This is one of the best exercises for period cramps as it relaxes your abdominal muscles, giving immense relief. It will help in period-induced insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and fatigue.
5. Balasana or Child Pose
- Sit on the mat in a way that hips rest onto your heels.
- You can keep your knees together or apart as per your comfort level.
- Now rest the forehead on the floor while stretching out the arms in front of you.
- Take deep breaths and hold the pose for 30-35 seconds.
- Now, exhale and release the pose.
Benefits: Balasana is a good exercise for period cramps. It flexes reproductive organs and reduces menstrual cramps, muscle, and joint pain during menstruation. It also releases tension from the back, shoulder and neck. It relaxes the body and induces good sleep.
6. Janu Sirsasana or Head-to-knee-forward Bend
- Sit with back and neck straight.
- Now, you outstretch both the legs in front of you.
- After that, bend the left knee and bring the sole of the left foot to the inner thigh of the right leg.
- Bend down and bring the torso over the extended right leg. Bending should not be from the lower back but the hips in this pose. It is an active position of the spine and long neck.
- Maintain the position and hold onto the ankle or calf.
- Now, exhale and relax the body.
- Continue the pose with the other leg too.
Benefits: Another exercise for period cramps, the forward bend position stretches hips, groin, and hamstrings muscles. It also stimulates abdominal and reproductive muscles. It relieves fatigue, headaches, anxiety, menstrual cramps and helps deal with mood swings. It is also effective against the symptoms of menopause.
7. Supta Matsyendrasana or Reclining Spinal Twist
- Lie on the back and keep the knees bent with feet on the floor.
- Draw both the knees towards the chest and clasp them with your hands.
- Extend the right leg along the floor while maintaining the left knee position beside the chest.
- Shift the hips slightly to the left and place the right hand on the left knee.
- Drop the left knee over the right side of the body.
- Turn your head on the left side and press shoulders towards the floor.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths.
- Now Inhale and relax the pose by bringing both knees to the chest.
- Exhale and repeat the steps with your left leg along the floor.
- When done with both sides, slowly exhale to extend both legs on the floor.
Benefits: This yoga pose will stretch your hips and lower back. It stimulates the digestive organs and causes more blood flow towards them. It relieves menstrual pain and re-energises the body. This exercise for period cramps also has other benefits.
After doing the yoga mentioned above, you can do a corpse pose or savasana to relax the body and mind. It is also the best exercise for period cramps.
Other Things You Can Do to Get Relief From Period Cramps
As per a study, low to moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, including running and walking, can release feel-good chemicals endorphins in the body. It improves mood, soothes headaches, reduces bloating and menstrual pain.
Here are a few other proven things that you can do to relieve periods of cramps besides exercise:
1. Use Heat
Studies show that heat can improve blood circulation in the abdomen and relax the uterus muscles. These muscles cause period cramps. It also helps with fatigue and mood swings. You can use a heat patch, hot water bottles, or electric heating pads on the abdomen.
2. Essential Oil Massage
According to research, essential oil massage can ease menstrual cramps and boost blood circulation over the abdomen. You can either use a blend of lavender oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, and rose oil in the carrier like coconut oil.
3. Pain-Reliever Medicines
You can take medications like Ibuprofen and Aspirin to relieve period pain and cramps.
4. Warm Bathtub
You can sit in the warm water bathtub or take a warm bath for at least 15 minutes. It will relax the muscles, especially around the pelvis, and relieve pain. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to it.
5. Dietary Supplements
Various supplements of calcium, vitamin B, fish oil, magnesium, and zinc can help in reducing period cramps. As study suggests, A low-fat diet can reduce PMS symptoms and period pain.
6. Acupressure Therapy
It involves applying firm pressure to specific body parts to ease the pain. As per a study, there is a point above calf muscles to relieve period pain. Rub it in small circular motions.
- Zahra Mohebbi Dehnavi, Farzaneh Jafarnejad, January 2018; The Effect of aerobic exercise on primary dysmenorrhea: A clinical trial study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791467/
- William Price, Gonzalo Rodriguez Jr, September 2004; Continuous, low-level, topical heat wrap therapy as compared to acetaminophen for primary dysmenorrhea - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15493566/
- D Hurlock, P Bertron, February 2008; Diet and sex-hormone binding globulin, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual symptoms - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10674588/