Updated: Oct 13
In this blog I will demonstrate the best 5 stretches to relieve period cramps and lower back pain. As a woman who experiences painful menstrual cramps, I have been on the hunt for natural ways to help relax my body and alleviate my discomfort. When it comes to natural options for menstrual pain relief our options are limited. Stretching is a fantastic way to promote blood flow and relaxation, which can reduce muscle cramping.
After speaking with several doctors about the amount of pain I experienced on a monthly basis, their medical advice was to take Advil, take birth control, start hormone induced menopause, or have a hysterectomy. Now as a woman in her thirties, I was not willing to accept any of those options. I was surprised how limited my treatment options were with modern medicine so I started working with a naturopath and began testing out different stretching routines.
The pain and amount of cramping experienced during a woman's cycle varies greatly. Some women have next to no discomfort and others have severe enough pain that painkillers are necessary. Women with endometriosis or adenomyosis can experience debilitating period cramps and pelvic pain. Keep in mind that everyone's body is different and what may work for one person may not for another. The stretching and mobility routine shown below will help to open up your hips and relax the tension in your lower back.
While performing the stretches it is important to incorporate breath work to promote oxygenated blood flow to your muscles. Take your time and allow your muscles to adapt and lengthen as you settle into each stretch or mobility movement.
Perform each movement for 30-60 seconds, repeat for 2-3 sets, and focus on your intensional deep breathing. Imagine with each breath the air going to your area of discomfort and exhaling the tension away. Consistency is also key, repeat the routine as needed.
STRETCH #1 - Hip Flexor Hang (with a foam roller) Relief for lower back pain and cramps.
The hip flexor hang will help open your hip flexors, aid in digestion, and decompress any pressure or tightness in your hips and pelvis. If you do not have access to a foam roller you can use a pillow or rolled up blanket instead.
Stretch #2 - Hip Bridge Stretching for period cramps and lower back pain
The hip bridge is a great exercise to strengthen the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and lower back) while also helping to reduce lower back pain. Before you bridge up, tilt your pelvis forward so your lower back does not arch as you hold your bridge.
Stretch #3 - 90/90 Rotational Hip Stretch
There are many benefits to the 90/90 mobility exercise and several variations. The variation shown is a dynamic movement that will increase your hip mobility and reduce pain caused by tight hips. Rotate with control and reach your chest forward until you feel a light to moderate stretch.
Stretch #4 - Low Lunge with a Side Bend
This is a more gentle variation to the runner's lunge but provides a deep stretch into the hip flexors and obliques while releasing the tension into the lower back. You can add a pillow under your knee if the kneeling position is uncomfortable.
Stretch #5 - Cross Body Lower Back Stretch
The cross body lower back stretch is one of the best lower back stretches to relieve lower back pain. For a full spinal twist you can turn your head to the opposite side that you are leaning towards. Make sure to focus on your deep breathing and only twist until you start to feel a light to moderate stretch.
The stretching and mobility exercises shown can also be paired with heat application. Placing a heating pad or warm compress on your lower abdomen or lower back prior to starting your stretching routine can be helpful as the heat will help to relax the muscles prior to the movements.
Resistance training for women's health.
There are many benefits for women to begin and maintain a regular resistance training routine. It can regulate hormones, reduce inflammation (which will help with menstrual cramps), promote the release of endorphins, increase muscle mass, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve metabolic health.
Diet and exercise do play a factor in hormone regulation and the reduction of inflammation. Regular resistance training and a healthy diet throughout your cycle can help to improve your unwanted period symptoms.
Desire Fitness offers custom online workout programs and personal training that is designed for each individual client and their health and wellness goals. Contact us to learn how the exercises shown above can be adapted to meet your fitness needs, health conditions, and abilities.
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Every individual's needs are unique. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting any new workout program, especially if you have any health conditions or injuries.
Start slow, take breaks, and listen to your body.