Hey Menstruators, Lets talk period pain!
Let me start by saying it is very common to experience muscle pain all over your body during your period or when you are due for your "monthly" visit from aunt flo (#sharkweek #ridingthecottonpony #visitorfromhell #menstruation) . It isn't always comfortable and sometimes its downright gut wrenchingly painful. The key here is that it is common but what amount of pain is considered "normal"? More importantly what can you do about it...
Disclaimer: Although I am an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner and a Yoga Instructor by profession, I am NOT your health care provider. This article is for information and educational purposes only. It does not constitute professional or health care advice. It does not establish any kind of practitioner-patient relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any harm resulting from or related to your use of this information.
What exactly happens on your period?
During your period, the first few days of your cycle when you shed your uterine lining, your hormone levels are at an all time low. This includes both progesterone and estrogen which is why you feel more sluggish, tired and lethargic at this point in your cycle. As your hormone levels drop, so do your magnesium levels. Magnesium is crucial for muscle support and activation. This means that low levels may lead to muscle and joint pain. Which can lead to that achy feeling you might be experiencing.
At the same time prostaglandins are released by your uterus during your period. Prostaglandins are unique hormones from a site of injury or inflammation. Don't forget you are experiencing muscle contractions to shed that uterine lining for the month. Because prostaglandins are hormones, they can go into the blood stream causing abdominal pain, back pain and even pain down your legs.
Furthermore it can cause aches and pains in other joints further away and can even lead to headaches.
The good news is Exercise can combat it! It increases both blood flow and endorphin production, which can reduce the amount of prostaglandins and pain that you may experience. Low impact options like yoga and swimming are great ways to relax and stretch your muscles. Certain yoga poses are even known to ease menstrual discomfort specifically.
Check out my Top 5 Yoga poses for Menstrual Cramps
The good news is these painful systems usually ease after the first day of your cycle but if you are curled up stuck on the couch, you can use aids like consuming raspberry leaf tea, eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in magnesium or massage yourself with a rub to soothe your aches externally. Here are a few resources I find really helpful that you can order online without ever leaving your cozy spot.
Raspberry Leaf tea
Raspberry leaf tea has been self reported by women and people who mensturate to help alleviate menstrual cramps. It has vitamin C, magnesium and potassium to help support your body! It also contains anthocyanins which can help reduce inflammation in your body and joints!
*Like all food, it is a drug and you should consult your doctor or health care provider if you have any medical condition prior to using this tea. It may effect blood pressure.
Kalaya Pain Relief Cream
This proudly Canadian company produces one of the best smelling creams on the market! This is one I love to use at home AND in my clinic because they are free of parabens, phthalates and medically directed.
If you experience low back pain with your cramp, you are all too familiar with the concept that organ pain can be referred to another area of your body. This is what we call referral pain because organs don't necessarily feel pain but the nerve root can refer that pain to another area signalling the distress. I personally love to give my stomach and low back a massage with this cream to help ease my cramps!
The Red Moon Gang
The Red Moon Gang is an inclusive book by Tara Costello to help educate about mensuration. We all know knowledge is power and becoming more aware of your body and its cycles will help you achieve harmony within yourself. It has great tips on how to manage your period and create the perfect period kit designed lovingly for you!
Electric Heating Pad
Nothing feels better than cuddling up with a heating pad! For those moments when your cramps are most intense and you cant think about getting up, this is for you! I love to curl up with this pad either on my low back or abdomen (depending on what is bother me most at the time). I find within 10 minutes I feel better!
Please make sure these products are safe for you personally. These are great during the most intense stage of pain to help get you feeling more comfortable. Once you feel more at ease, you can get up for some gentle movement like a walk or yoga!
Let me know what you think! Do you have strategies that help you improve your menstural cramp? I'd love to hear them...
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