Menstrual Cramps Relief from Pelvic Floor Exercises
by Courtney Virden
About eighty percent of all women experience menstrual cramps at some point. 20 percent experience cramps so bad they make it difficult to enjoy life when they have them, a condition known as dysmenorrhea. Period pain is most often in the lower back, pelvis, and abdomen.
With so many women in pain every month, there has to be something to help, right? Yes, you can definitely do some things to help decrease your pain and potential for experiencing it in the first place. If your pain is extremely severe, you can visit your doctor to ensure you don’t have an underlying condition.
Some women choose to go on birth control pills because they experience less cramping with them. Yet many want a natural treatment and wonder if exercise helps with menstrual cramps. Exercise can help both short-term and long-term, and heating pads are used by many to provide immediate relief as well.
During our period, our uterus contracts and spasms to shed its lining. A tight pelvic floor that is unable to relax can contribute to increased pain. It is more common for women under 25 to have painful period cramps. More severe menstrual cramps after the age of 25 could be a sign of a medical issue, so it is advised to visit your doctor or physical therapist to get an exam.
Exercises to Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Aerobic exercise is a great thing anytime, especially drying your menstrual cycle. It helps decrease bloating and increase circulation and endorphins.
Pelvic floor exercises benefit women of all ages, whether on their cycle or not. Many women have a hypertonic pelvic floor (tight pelvic floor muscles) and need to learn how to relax the pelvic floor muscles. A tight pelvic floor doesn’t mean it is strong. In fact, a hypertonic pelvic floor is usually weak. The right pelvic floor exercises will utilize eccentric and concentric contractions to ensure your pelvic floor can lengthen and tighten appropriately. Think of concentric contractions of the pelvic floor as pelvic floor stretches that also strengthen the pelvic floor simultaneously.
Learning to relax and lengthen the pelvic floor is essential for pelvic floor health during your cycle and throughout the rest of the month. I used to get horrible menstrual cramps and, like so many others who do our programs, saw my cramps become a thing of the past.
Diaphragmatic Breathing, Your Pelvic Floor, and Menstrual Cramps
Our pelvic floor is the base of our core, and our diaphragm is at the top. So, diaphragmatic breathing is essential for pelvic floor health. When we inhale, our diaphragm contracts, and our pelvic floor lengthens and descends slightly. When we exhale, our pelvic floor contracts and lifts gently as our diaphragm relaxes. Shallow breathers usually have a tight pelvic floor and, therefore, might experience more pain during their period.
Pelvic Floor & Core Exercises for Women
Our pelvic floor is the base of our core, and our diaphragm is at the top. So, diaphragmatic breathing is important for pelvic floor health. When we inhale, our diaphragm contracts, and our pelvic floor lengthens and descends slightly. When we exhale, our pelvic floor contracts and lifts up gently as our diaphragm relaxes. Shallow breathers usually have a tight pelvic floor and, therefore, might experience more pain during their period.
3 Moves for a Pelvic Floor and Core Workout
- Pelvic Tilts: Simple and easy to do anywhere since there is no equipment. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pubic bone towards your spine, engaging your pelvic floor and core muscles to gently tilt your pelvis and lift it off of the floor.
- Hip Circles: One of my favorite exercises for back pain during your period. Sit on top of the ball. Don’t worry about keeping your core engaged. You will sit tall and slowly do a pelvic circle in one direction. Focus on initiating the movement with the lower abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. Repeat on the other side, switching directions with each circle.
- Bosu Jumps: A great full-body workout! Your feet, legs, pelvic floor, abs, and glutes all get a great workout with these. Don’t look down and focus your eyes on a stable object in front of you. Jump and lift your legs off of the bosu by exploding from the toes and balls of the feet. This is such a great pelvic floor and ab exercise for a strong core.