Listen to this article
Let’s start by posing a very pertinent question: amidst excruciating stomach cramps, oscillating moods, fatigue, hunger pangs, and the discomfort down there, would you find it obnoxious if we asked you to work out on your period?
Extreme apologies if your answer is a yes. But have you ever thought of how skipping a workout means staying away from a very important feel-good factor when you actually need it the most. After all, it’s easier to get through those painful five days of your period while feeling lighter and happier, don’t you think?
And if it’s your dadi’s conventional advice of staying indoors and keeping your physical activity to a bare minimum that’s stopping you from working out, then you’ve got to get over those questionable “words of wisdom”.
“A woman should and can safely work out during her period. Lest, of course, she has complications like tangible-sized cysts in her ovaries like in case of polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD); very painful symptoms of endometriosis: or very heavy bleeding especially during the first 2-3 days of the cycle,” says Dr Kruti Khemani, physiotherapist and founder, Continuum Sports Physiotherapy and Rehab Centre, Mumbai.
In fact, working out during periods has several benefits. “It can boost your mood, improve your metabolism, better your blood circulation, and can allow your uterus to relax, thereby reducing cramps body pain,” she explains.
So, what should your period workout be like?
Dr Khemani recommends the following exercises that can get you through a terrible period with ease:
Walking: Going for a walk is the best exercise to do during menstruation. It is simple to perform and can release tension, stretch the lower back, and relieve bloating. It’s also a gentle activity that won’t stress out your body. Hence, walk for at least 30 minutes.
However, if the thought of it makes you cringe, take a trip around the block or head out to buy stuff from the market. The leg movement will loosen up your pelvic muscles and therefore, relieve pain.
Leg lifts: Exercising during your period doesn’t mean you need to leave the comfort of your house. You can simply perform leg lifts at home as they can loosen up your abdominal, back, thigh, and pelvic muscles. This is how you can do them:
To start, lie down on a mat and straighten your legs. Slowly, lift your right leg up so that it creates a 90-degree angle with the floor. Hold for a second, then bring it back down. Repeat with the left leg. This finishes one rep. Go on to perform three to five sets of 5 to 10 repetitions each and you’ll feel relaxed afterwards.
Side lunges: Compared to the standard lunge, the side version is gentler. It’s easier on the knees, so it’ll feel less painful during menstruation. Additionally, this exercise will help you deal with cramps in the hips, butt, and thighs. This is how you can do them:
Stand with your feet and knees together. Step to the side with your right leg and lunge towards the floor while keeping your left leg straight. Push yourself back up so that you are standing up again. Repeat with the left leg and stick to 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions.
Plank: The plank exercise is great if you have lower back pain during your period. This move will strengthen your back while easing tension. Your hips, butt, and abs will also benefit from this exercise and you’ll sense relief from period cramps too.
To do a plank, get down on all fours. Place your hands flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart and your knees should be hip-width apart. Extend your feet behind you, one by one. Flex at the heels to give yourself some support. Lower your elbows to the ground and keep your back straight. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and gradually progress to a minute. Repeat 3-5 times.
Child’s pose: The child’s pose or balasana is restorative and calming. It also lengthens the back, helping it release tension and tightness. This pose also opens up the hips and improves digestion, making it an amazing exercise for period pain.
All you’ve got to do is to kneel down on a mat, place your buttocks on your feet, and bring your knees together. Bend forward so that your torso lies on your thighs. Your forehead should touch the mat. Extend your arms straight ahead or relax them on either side of your body. Hold for at least 15 seconds and don’t forget to breathe deeply during this move. (It’ll deliver oxygen throughout your body, helping you to get the most out of the exercise). Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Keep these pointers in mind though…
Dr Khemani warns against certain red flags that you mustn’t ignore and that indicate you need rest and medical supervision to combat period pain. She recommends taking these precautions:
Now that you know, don’t hesitate to work it out on your period.