Do you suffer from menstrual cramps every month? If so, join the club. Menstrual cramps, a condition called dysmenorrhea, can be mild to severe, and women can experience cramps in the lower back, abdomen, and pelvis. While what is considered normal cramps depends on who you talk to, if your cramps are completely debilitating or if you have a significant shift in your pain, you should visit a doctor to ensure that you do not have an underlying condition. For most women, there are some exercises you can do to help reduce your cramps and sometimes even eliminate them. How great does that sound?
Aerobic exercise is great for improving circulation, decreasing bloat, and increasing endorphins, which can all help you feel better during your cycle. Pelvic-floor exercises are impactful too. They help your muscles and fascia by improving the length-tension relationship, which increases mobility, flexibility, and strength. Our uterus contracts and spasms to shed its lining during our period, and having a pelvic floor that’s able to relax instead of holding excess tension can help decrease pain. You can also train your pelvic floor to rest in a more relaxed state, which can help decrease cramps from muscle spasms. I used to get horrible cramps, but once I was consistent with my pelvic-floor program and these exercises, my cramps are now a thing of the past.
Learn and watch the tutorial for the three moves to help reduce painful cramps below.
The Move: Pelvic Tilts
How to: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet pointing straight ahead. Your knees should be over your ankles and arms by your sides. Slowly tilt your pubic bone toward your spine, lifting your hips off the ground, one vertebra at a time. Focus on your lower abs and pelvic floor initiating and controlling the movement and helping your lower back relax and stretch. Then slowly reverse and lower your hips to the ground, one vertebra at a time, controlling the movement with your pelvic floor and lower abs still. Repeat several times.
How it helps: Pelvic tilts can help improve circulation and function in your pelvic floor and relax your lower back.
The Move: Hip Circles
How to: Sit on top of a stability ball with your feet pointing straight ahead. Draw your lower abs in gently toward your spine and feel your tailbone drop toward the floor, relaxing your lower back. Keep your chest and spine lifting up toward the ceiling. Begin by tilting your pubic bone toward your spine and then circle toward your sit bone. Continue to circle to bring your pubic bone closer to the ball, over to the other sit bone, and finally finishing with your pubic bone toward your tailbone again. Focus on the pelvic floor lengthening and rebounding in all directions. Each time you do a full circle, reverse direction and continue to repeat several times.
How it helps: This is a great exercise for helping relax and improve the function of the pelvic floor, lower back, and hips.
The Move: Bosu Jumps
How to: Stand on the top/top-front of the Bosu barefoot and begin to do little jumps. You will want to use your toes and balls of the feet to push off and to land instead of having your weight in your heels. Jump on the top or the top-front of the Bosu. If you jump in the back, it will be difficult to not jump off backward. Staying on the Bosu can be a fun challenge, and when you start, you might only be able to do one or two jumps in a row. Each time, make it a goal to beat your personal best for the number of jumps in a row. You can also hold onto something to help your balance until you feel comfortable doing it without assistance.
How it helps: Jumping on the Bosu strengthens your feet, legs, pelvic floor, and abs and is a great aerobic exercise, making it an ideal move to help with cramps.
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Courtney Virden is a pelvic floor expert, fitness trainer, and writer who has created several specialized core and pelvic floor programs. Her online programs, used by women around the world, are designed to correct pelvic floor dysfunction, fix diastasis recti, and promote pelvic floor health from the comfort of home. Courtney also offers full-body workouts along with fitness and nutrition tips. For more information, visit her website www.courtneyv.com or follow her on Instagram @courtneyvfitness.
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