Regular exercise has been shown to have a significant impact on mental health and general physical health, but could it also be the key to tackling period pain? While every woman’s relationship to her period and the discomfort she feels will be different, there is evidence to suggest that exercise can help reduce the effect of period pain.
A 2019 study by St Mary’s University and FitrWoman revealed that 78% of women say that exercise reduces the symptoms related to their menstrual cycle. So, how does it help and what types of exercise work best?
How is exercise good for period pain?
Exercise can help manage your pain in a number of ways, including:
- Energy Levels: Exercise helps increase oxygen levels in your blood meaning you have more energy to help deal with your period.
- Hormones: When you exercise your body releases hormones called endorphins. These endorphins are linked to pleasure but can also counteract pain signals.
- Circulation: During your period, your uterus contracts, restricting blood flow and causing pain – exercise can help increase your heart rate and improve circulation to help tackle your period pain.
Visit our pain hub to find out more about period pain relief.
Which type of exercise during your period?
A 2019 study looked at the different types of exercise and how they might affect period pain. The study, of women under 25, revealed that high-intensity exercise such as aerobics and low-intensity exercise such as yoga showed a ‘significant reduction in period pain levels.
Yoga for period pain
Yoga can be a great option on heavier period days when you may feel a bit more sluggish and bloated. Yoga poses and exercises that can help include:
On a mat, kneel down. Lean back into your heels, push your arms forward and rest your head on the mat. This simple, low-intensity pose helps to flex, or stretch, your uterus and reproductive organs to give you pain relief and relax your body.
Reclining bound angle
Lie down on your mat, use a pillow if necessary to make yourself comfortable. Then, bend your knees keeping your fleet on the floor and open up your knees down towards the floor, opening up your pelvis. This relaxing exercise stretches your abdomen to help relieve cramps and can also help reduce anxiety caused by period pain.
Head to knee forward bend
Sit down on your mat with your legs in front of you, then pull your left up towards you, so the bottom of your foot touches the outside of your knee. Then, lean forward, as far as is comfortable, bringing your head down towards your knee. This deep stretch has a range of benefits for your digestive and reproductive system and can help tackle period fatigue.
Aerobics for period pain
If you’re having a lighter menstrual day – aerobic exercise such as jogging can help to boost your energy and reduce symptoms caused by your period. If you decide to go for a jog on your period, remember:
- Stay hydrated: Your body loses more fluid during your period so drink plenty before, during and after your jog to keep your body hydrated.
- Don’t push it: Exercise can certainly help reduce pain, but don’t push it too hard and wear your body out. Stick at a steady pace and take a break if you need it.
- Stretch before and after: You should be doing this anyway but stretching before and after exercise will also help relieve pain from menstrual cramps. For more info on avoiding running injuries, visit our blog.
Looking for a natural drug-free solution to period pain to supplement regular exercise? BioWaveGO helps block pain at the nerve during your period so you can forget about pain and get back to being you.
- Armour M, Ee CC, Naidoo D, Ayati Z, Chalmers KJ, Steel KA, de Manincor MJ, Delshad E. Exercise for dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD004142. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004142.pub4.