Did you know that our periods are meant to be relatively pain free? I know crazy right! Yet period pain/menstrual cramps is one of the most commonly experienced period symptom. Whilst I am all about addressing the root cause of your period pain so you actually don’t need what I am about to share, I also know that getting relief from those period cramps is necessary whilst we are working on those root causes.
There is so much we can do to help reduce the severity of period pain, both in the lead up to our periods but also in the moment of having the period pain. I am going to share with you some of my favourite lifestyle treatments for period pain. (You can find my Nutritional Treatments here)
Before I dive into my favourite lifestyle treatments, if you would like to learn more about your period pain I suggest you head to my post Understanding Period Pain to get the low down.
Exercise has been shown to increases endorphins in your bloodstream which help with pain relief. Now you don’t need to go crazy with your exercise. Performing a mix of low intensity exercise such as yoga and high intensity exercise just as aerobics, for 45-60 minutes three times a week was shown to reduce the intensity of period pain. You can dive deeper into this by exercising for each stage of your menstrual cycle. If you want to dive more into this, grab your copy of the Unique Timing Tracker and start tracking your cycle.
Whilst I did mention yoga above as exercise, specific yoga poses can help you have an easier period and have been shown to reduce pain between 50 and 90%. These poses can be used in the moment as an alternative to anti-inflammatories.
- Cobblers Pose
- Seated Straddle with a bolster or pillows
- Seated Forward Bend with a bolster or pillows
- Goddess Pose with a bolster or pillows under your feet then under your upper back
- Legs Up the Wall with a bolster or pillows under you lower back
- Lying on your back with your knees pulled into your chest (no idea what this one is called…)
This is my favourite yoga for cramps video if you would like a guided practice.
There is also strong research that shows mediation increases the production of the brains pain-reducing opioids and this can have more of an affect than orally consumed opioids such as codeine. As you continue with your mediation practice the brain begins to uses specific, different neural pathways that make the brain less sensitive to the pain you are experiencing. Whilst the scientific evidence is still expanding, results are extremely promising.
Finding a mediation practice that is best for you is key. Types of mediation include
- Body Scan
There are some amazing apps out there to help – my favourite is Insight Timer.
As if you could possibly need an excuse for a massage… but if you do this is perfect. Massage not only releases tension from the body it can be healing as it encourages the flow of nutrients to areas that need healing, in this case your lower abdomen and back. There are many types of massage so find one you like and a reputable practitioner who understands your needs.
Is there anything more comforting than a bath? Being submerged in the water soothes both the body and the mind. When you add magnesium (epsom salts) and some pink Himalayan salt, your body is submerged in the watery goodness of pain relief. Magnesium is known to reduce inflammation and cramping in the muscles which provides you with relief from period pain and period cramps. Just make sure you have your bath cleaned in the week leading up to your period so you don’t have to do it whilst you have your period.
I am a huge fan of acupuncture for hormonal health in general but especially around the time of your period. Acupuncture is known for its effectiveness in treating acute and chronic pain. Studies show that after acupuncture your body produces more natural painkillers and your brain shows better response to pain medication. From research we know that it may reduce inflammation, modulate immunity and regulate your hormones.
Heat therapy such as a hot water bottle, pain patches with natural ingredients or infrared patches provide a moderate reduction in menstrual pain similar to that of anti-inflammatories. Heat can increase blood flow to the abdominal area counteracting the constriction of the uterine wall. Heat applied to the skin of the lower abdominal also activates the thermoreceptors in this area which helps to reduce the pain signals back to the brain. This one is good for rapid short term pain reduction.
If you are experiencing painful period pain and cramps sleep may not come easy. Yet getting deep restful sleep is the time that our body does its own natural healing. The best way to help yourself get the sleep you need is to establish a nice calming bedtime routine. This can include
– Screens off, bright over-head lights off – think warm glows, and soft light.
– Spend that important time before bed signalling to the body it’s time to rest eg aave a bath or a shower, read a book, listen to a podcast (I have a great one Find Your Hum) or some music, do some stretching.
– The hours before midnight count more than the hours after – generally we are programmed to be snuggling down for sleep around 10am, see if this is possible for you over the next 2 weeks
– Trouble falling to sleep I invite you over to Insight Timer to connect with me. I have gathered my favourite sleep meditations to help you drift off. They are also really helpful if you find yourself wide awake whilst it’s still dark
Indulge in a sound bath for nothing else other than the pure relaxation. But a sound bath is more than just relaxation. It works on activating the alpha and theta brain waves that are present when we are meditating or in REM sleep. These brain waves allow the subconscious to enable healing on a deeper level than we can consciously work.
Reiki works to clear stagnant, blocked, negative energy that as built up in the body. It allows the body to deeply relax enabling the body to begin to self-heal. It also works to clear negative, depressive and anxious thoughts.
These self care interventions really do empower us to become our own ‘condition manager’. It gives us a sense of agency not only over our menstrual pain but also our cycles.
If you would like more help with your period pain or other hormonal symptoms and conditions please book a chat with me, together we can work to heal your root causes and get you back to your healthiest self.