“Leave me alone, don’t touch me today, everything hurts.”
“I just want to curl up and wake up with no nagging pains!”
Do these sound familiar to you? Especially during “that time of the month”? You’re not alone. A lot of us women deal with such crucial pain every month and what a lot of us don’t realise is that movement can most times help us heal and over time, these cramps get better and can even disappear! Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?
Now, what even is a menstrual cramp?! In case you didn’t know, I asked a gynaecologist instead of going through my old biology textbooks or worse, Google it. “Menstrual cramp is a pain that is experienced during menstruation by some women and young girls. It is believed to be more common in young women before they have had any pregnancies or deliveries” says Dr. Sangeeta Saksena, Gynaecologist and Co-founder of Enfold Proactive Health Trust, Bengaluru.
Our uterus lining is shedding, our hormone levels drop considerably when there is no fertilisation and chemicals are emitted. This creates pain, irritability, bloating, tenderness of breasts among other things, for a lot of women. However, it is important to note that not all women go through this.
Upon asking Dr. Saksena about movement helping with these cramps, she said, “movement helps, especially if it is done as a regular activity.”
So, if you don’t move regularly and lead a more sedentary lifestyle, I would highly encourage you to add movement to your life - walking, Pilates, yoga, functional fitness, etc. There are so many options, so you don’t have an excuse! Better late than never, right? And over some time, movement makes your body “more resilient and you may not experience as much pain,” says Dr. Saksena.
Keeping all this in mind, I’m here to show you a set of movements that you can do when you’re dealing with cramps - before or during your period.
Please make sure you do these movements at your pace and to your capacity. Do not copy the pace and style, as everybody is different.
Lateral breathing - inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. This type of breathing is heavily practised in Pilates.
Seated spine twists - gently opening up the spine. Once you get more comfortable, you can twist more as shown in the video.
Seated side bends - sit bones or your glutes to remain on the mat at all times. Focus on the sides of your body being lengthened.
Seated butterfly stretch - inner thigh, hip flexor release. Helps with blood flow and releasing of cramps.
Supine (On your back)
Knee drop spine twists - This helps with releasing your lower back tension and tightness while mobilising the spine a bit more.
Hip twists - lower back release
Elevated cobra stretch - releasing of hips, lower belly, pelvic floor muscles that tighten and cramp up during PMS and menstruation.
Practice these moves regularly, and it should help in relieving menstrual cramps a lot more. More than anything else, period or not, starting moving - often, effectively, and mindfully - you’ll see a huge difference in your mood, your health, and your overall mind, body, and spirit connection. Now, are you seriously telling me that you wouldn’t want that for yourself?
So what are you waiting for? Join me on the mat and let’s get moving.