These Are The Best Stretches For Relieving Even The Worst Period Cramps
When that time of the month arrives, we’re all doubled over in pain. Menstrual cramps have this horrific way of tightening every other surrounding muscle in the abdomen, leaving us unsure of whether we need to throw up or run to the bathroom or just lie there in the fetal position. But one of the best treatments for this discomfort has nothing to do with pharmaceuticals. That’s right — we’re talking about stretching.
Here are a handful of stretching options, all of which are conveniently yoga poses as well. They’ll help those muscles in your middle relax a bit, providing much-needed relief in the throes of your least favorite days. All you need is space the size of a yoga mat to get started. After doing a few dynamic movements to direct blood flow to your muscles, move through these stretches in the order in which they’re presented. By the end of the session, we bet you’ll feel way better than when you started.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge forward at the hips to slowly fold your lower body toward the floor. You can bend your knees slightly if straight legs create too much pressure on your hamstrings. Bend your arms and grab your opposite elbows with each hand. Gently swing from side to side, feeling gravity pull your upper body toward the floor. Remain here for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Bring your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and turn your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Slowly lower your hips down toward the floor as you bend your knees. Keep your hips back so your knees can align over your ankles, and hold your back nice and tall. Bring your palms together in front of you and brace your outer arms on the insides of your knees for support as you breathe into the stretch. Remain here for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Come into a table-top position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders, your knees stacked under your hips and your spine in a neutral position. To come into cow pose, inhale as you drop your belly button toward the floor and lift your chest and gaze up toward the ceiling. To shift into cat pose, exhale as you lift your belly button toward your spine and tuck your chin into your chest, rounding your back in the process. Alternate between the two poses on the breath for as many rounds as feels good to you.
Upright Pidgeon Pose
Sit on the floor with your right knee bent in front of your hips and your left leg stretched out behind you. You can angle your right leg so that your shin is perpendicular to the rest of your body, and flex your foot to protect your knee. Place your hands on your hips or on the floor next to your hips, whichever feels more comfortable for you, noticing a full stretch in the front of your left hip. Breathe here for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then switch sides and repeat.
Wide-Legged Child’s Pose
Come into a table-top position. Open your knees out to the width of your yoga mat, leaving your big toes touching one another and the tops of your feet pressing into the floor. Shift your weight into your hips and back toward your heels as you reach forward with your arms straight out in front of you. As you breathe, allow your chest to relax toward the floor and your belly to relax into the space between your legs. Remain here as long as feels good for you.
Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose
Come up to a seated position. Bend your knees and place the outside of your left leg on the floor so that your left foot reaches underneath your right upper thigh. Place your right foot into the ground so that your knee is facing the ceiling. Keeping your back long and tall, place your right hand on the floor behind you for support. Reach your left arm across your body so that the outside of your upper arm presses into the outside of your right thigh. Gently breathe into the stretch for 30 seconds and then switch sides and repeat.
Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and draw your knee in toward your chest, wrapping your arms around your shin in a hugging motion. Breathe here for 30 seconds before bringing the right leg down to the starting position and repeating the stretch on the left side. Then, bend both knees together and lift them toward your chest, hugging them into your upper body with your arms and leaving your shoulders and neck relaxed on the floor. Breathe here for another 30 seconds before returning to the starting position.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Lying on your back, bend both of your knees and drop them out toward the sides of your yoga mat so that the bottoms of your feet press into one another. Bring your heels in closer toward your hips for a deeper stretch, or leave them further away for a more gentle stretch. As you breathe, place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach, letting your body settle into the position. As your hips open, your knees will fall closer and closer toward the floor. Remain here for 30 seconds to 1 minute.