Painful Period Cramps? Try these 5 Exercises to Relieve It!
Dr. Pooja Shukla

Dr. Pooja Shukla

Jun 29Menstrual health

Painful Period Cramps? Try these 5 Exercises to Relieve It!

This article has been compiled by Vaibhavi Kodnani, a content writer at Proactive For Her.

Dysmenorrhea means painful menstruation due to severe cramps in the lower abdomen. These painful cramps are a result of uterine contractions that occur during periods.

Symptoms of dysmenorrhea include

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Pain that travels to your lower back, hips and thighs
  • A constant ache or frequenting cramps
  • Clots may be present in the menstrual blood

Dysmenorrhea is often accompanied by other PMS symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tender breasts
  • Swollen abdomen

The continuous throbbing pain may impede your work schedules and daily routines. It is advisable to consult your doctor if this happens every single month. There are many ways to curb or reduce period pain and other symptoms through a healthy diet, good lifestyle choices, medications and some home remedies. But, since no two people present with the same symptoms, the treatment options will also vary. However, along with other treatments, one thing that can surely provide relief is exercise. But not just any exercise - we are talking about specific exercise poses targeted at reducing the pain during periods and comforting the body.

How can exercise help ease period pain?

Exercising during periods has various benefits. It is not only helpful in relieving pain but also in reducing other PMS symptoms. Here’s how:

It releases endorphins: When we exercise, our brain releases endorphins - hormones that help block the pain signals and provide relief. It also boosts your mood and manages anxiety related to periods, automatically making you feel better.

It increases blood circulation: Exercising increases the blood circulation throughout the body, which helps reduce pain in the body, whether it is cramps or headaches.

It improves sleep: Sleep is crucial when on periods. PMS is also known to affect sleep, and you may experience insomnia. But exercising can significantly improve your sleep quality. If you have slept well, you will not feel much tiredness and fatigue during the daytime.

What kind of exercises can you do during your period?

It will vary from person to person, but the general advice is to engage in low-impact workouts during your period. Scientifically speaking, due to the low estrogen and progesterone levels and heavy bleeding in the initial days of your period, the body generally feels tired. Hence, the following types of exercises are recommended:

  • Light walking
  • Light cardio
  • Low volume strength training
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

painful periods

What exercises should you avoid during your period?

Again, it will depend on your symptoms and feelings during the period. If you are feeling extremely tired, refrain from:

  • Intense cardiovascular training
  • Endurance training

You can also cut down on the workout duration to give yourself time to recover.

It is okay to take a break from exercising and give enough time and rest for your body to recuperate from all the pain, stress and fatigue. As many people experience an increase in the rate of perceived exertion, moderately difficult exercises feel much more difficult. Therefore, perform low-impact workouts that help your body relax.

5 exercises to help with period cramps and other pains

The below explained simple exercises are low-impact and ensure relief from cramps, headaches, bloating, and lift your mood. Remember to perform these in comfortable clothing and on a yoga mat. But if you go through extreme fatigue and discomfort while doing these exercises, then discontinue them. It is crucial to listen to your body and provide yourself ample comfort during these days.

Bridging- You have to get into a simple bridge-like position in this exercise.

It helps:

  • Improve blood circulation in the lower back muscles
  • Strengthen lower back muscles
  • Relieve lower back pain
  • Reduce cramping and inflammation

Steps to do it:

  • Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms straight on either side with the palms facing down.
  • Take a deep breath in and slowly raise your hips off the ground. Your body would be resting on your upper back, shoulders and heels.
  • Hold that position for 1-2 seconds, and gently rest back down.

Reps: 10-12 reps

Kneeling hip thrusts- Hip thrusts are performed in different ways. But this is a low-impact type wherein you need to be on your knees.

It helps:

  • Work the thigh muscles
  • Strengthen abs
  • Reduce bloating

Steps to do it:

  • Kneel comfortably. Your knees should be hip-width apart; place your bottom on your heels.
  • While exhaling, lift your hips off your heels.
  • Then come back down to the original position as you inhale.

Reps: 15-20 reps

Glute lifts - leg extension- For this exercise, find yourself a table or any raised platform. Ensure there’s enough space on the platform to keep your hands.

It helps:

  • Strengthen your entire core
  • Reduce lower back pain
  • Reduce bloating

Steps to do it:

  • Place your forearms on a table or a kitchen counter or any raised platform.
  • Walk far enough from the table so that your body makes an upside-down ‘L’ shape.
  • While balancing on your left leg, extend your right leg straight behind you.
  • Slowly lift your right leg; it should be parallel to the ground. Then, slowly bring it back down. Ensure that your back does not arch during the action.
  • Repeat the same with the left leg.

Reps: 10-15 reps with each leg

Shift back arm rotation- The ribs and abs can feel restricted due to PMS symptoms such as bloating and cramps. This movement stretches and opens up these areas to increase blood flow and provide relief.

It helps:

  • Improve blood flow
  • Alleviate bloating
  • Reduce cramps

Steps to do it:

  • First, go on all fours.
  • Then lift the right hand, pointing toward the ceiling. It will open your chest toward the right.
  • Slowly return to the centre position.
  • Repeat the same arm lift with the left arm.

Reps: 10 reps with each arm

Long sitting forward bend- The lower back and sacrum become tight and stiff during periods. This exercise is an excellent stretch to soothe the tensed back muscles.

It helps:

  • Relieve lower back pain
  • Relax the abdomen

Steps to do it:

  • Sit on the yoga mat or the bed with your legs extended in front of you. You can place a rolled-up towel under the knees if your legs feel tight.
  • As you exhale, slowly bend or fold forward from the hips. Don’t bend your spine; keep it long.
  • Hold in this position for 1-2 minutes. Focus on your breath as you take deep and slow breaths. When inhaling, your belly should move outwards, and when exhaling, it should draw inwards.

Hold the position: For 1-2 minutes

When should you visit a doctor?

You must contact your doctor under any of the following situations:

  • If you are experiencing extreme pain and bleeding
  • If you get a fever during your periods
  • If you are experiencing newer symptoms

Bottom line

Menstrual cramps accompanied by other PMS symptoms can be discomforting, but it is possible to alleviate the symptoms with simple remedies. Hydrating yourself, and eating home-cooked, healthy food can significantly help. At the same time, exercise has various proven benefits too. Certain forms of exercise can help reduce specific symptoms. Cut down the intensity and duration of the workouts and focus on low-impact exercises along with breathing to relax your body and mind.

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

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