- Women's Health
5 Ways to Relieve Menstrual/Period Cramps (Without Medicine)
As a woman, I deeply understand how painful menstrual cramping can be. As a Dancer, I've found a bunch of ways to relieve menstrual cramps if medicine is not available or an option. I also utilize these techniques while waiting for Ibuprofen (I recommended this over aspirin or acetaminophen) to work. Also, even with medication, there is typically some residual feelings of discomfort--these remedies can also minimize these feelings!
I decided to write this because I recently spoke to a fellow dancer, and realized she had never thought to use some of these techniques before.
Where is your Pain?
Before choosing any of the techniques described below, you must determine where your menstrual cramping centers. Typically, cramps emanate from three locations:
>Best remedies: 1, 2, 3, 5
2. Lower Back:
>Best remedies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
3. Stomach / Womb:
>Best remedies: 2, 3, 4, 5
All of these remedies are recommendations. You can try variations as you see fit. Remember, You can experience pain in all three of these locations at once. Some women also experience full body cramping (which can also be described as waves of pain that reach from the legs to the forehead). I have experienced each of these forms of cramping, and have found each type can require a different technique to relieve the pain.
The 5 Best Remedies
Authors Note: I use the stretches below to relax when I have cramps from all three areas of pain. I typically read a book or watch T.V. while in these stretches. Do NOT take a nap, as you can sit in the position for too long and stretch your muscles too much. Remember to give your muscles a break from these stretches regularly.
1. The Butterfly Stretch:
This stretch relieves pain that emanates from the thighs and can help diminish the pain from lower back cramps.
Instructions: Sit on the floor with your legs in a slight V in front of you. Bring you feet together and as close to your body as you can get without pain or crossing your feet over one another. Then bend forward slightly, trying to keep your back straight. If you feel any pain in your back or legs, readjust to a less extreme position. Many people will not be able to bend very far over their feet or bring their feet close to their body.
2. The Wall Stretch
This stretch helps eliminate cramps emanating from the thighs, and can greatly diminish pain from the stomach / womb or lower back.
Instructions: Lie on your back near a wall (can be on bed), and scoot until your butt touches the wall. Hold your legs in the air parallel to the wall, and then separate them into a V. Let your legs settle as low on the wall as is comfortable (without feeling more than a light stretch). Use the wall as a support for your legs. If you feel any sharp pains, discontinue this stretch.
3. The Stomach Stretch
This stretch helps eliminate cramps that emanate from both thigh and lower back, and can help diminish the pain from the stomach / womb
Instructions: Lie on your stomach, with your legs stretched behind you and your upper body propped on your forearms. Keeping your knees touching the floor, bring your feet as close to your body as you can without pain or discomfort. You should feel a slight stretch in both your thighs and back. You may not be able to touch your feet together in this position, but try.
4. The Bent Chair Stretch
This stretch helps to diminish the pain from stomach / womb and lower back cramping.
Instructions: This stretch can be done any time you are sitting. Just sit with your legs slightly apart, and bend forward over your legs. You head should end up somewhere past your knees. This is a very simple stretch, and may not eliminate the cramping, but can help to diminish some of the pain if there is little room to do other stretches.
Heat is the ultimate non-medicinal remedy to cramping that I have found.
The best way to heat all areas that experience cramping is to sit in a hot shower or a bath, but if neither of these are an option then invest in a heating pad. There are micro-bead heating pads that can be heated in the microwave, and I typically use this in tandem with the stretches mentioned above.
Also, I recently discovered ThermaCare heating wraps; these pads are handy to have around, and are relatively small and thin so they are easy to store. Keep one in your purse if you are on the go and you suddenly have cramp pain. They will last 8 hours, and provide enough heat to effectively minimize the pain!
So in summary, the best heat sources for cramps are:
- 1.Sitting in the Shower or Bath
- 2. Heating Pad / Warmed Object
- 3. ThermaCare
For those of you hesitant to use medicines with stimulants or don't have any on hand, all 5 of these remedies are amazing in their ability to make pain recede. But beware, once you stop use of the remedy, pain can quickly return. Look for other sources of pain relief if pain persists. If pain is unbearable, see a doctor.