Can massage help with period pain?


What are the symptoms of period pain?

Most menstruating women will experience some degree of pain or cramping during their monthly cycle. During your period your uterus contracts in order to expel its lining, which feels like cramps. These contractions can subsequently constrict blood vessels, which may also cause pain. Symptoms may last for part or all of your period, and can vary in severity. Anyone who has experienced period pain knows how disruptive this can be!

Natural remedies for period pain relief

Although pain killers such as Ibuprofen can provide some relief (check with your doctor first) there are also a number of natural remedies that may help to reduce period pain. Try to:

  • Improve your diet: reduce fat and increase vegetable consumption in order to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  • Use a heating pad: topical heat can relax the muscles and reduce cramping. You can use electric pads or even an old-fashioned hot water bottle. (Check the instructions for these to ensure safe use.)
  • Exercise: it may be the last thing you feel like doing, but exercise boosts your endorphins, which in turn should make you feel happier.
  • Take a magnesium supplement: magnesium has been shown to ease cramps. You can either take a supplement, or increase your intake of magnesium-rich food, including bananas, avocado and dark chocolate (yum!).

Massage for period cramps

Massage has been demonstrated to relieve the symptoms of period pain. There are several different types of massage that may have positive effects for people suffering with cramps. These include:

  • Swedish Massage with Essential Oils: the most common type of full body massage, and a good first time treatment. Swedish massage uses a combination of long strokes, variable pressure and tapping motions to bring oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, as well as draining lactic acid. If possible, ask if your therapist uses lavender, clary sage or marjoram essential oils, as these have been shown to have the greatest impact on pain reduction.
  • Lymphatic Drainage Massage: a side effect of period pain can be water retention and bloating, which may contribute to feelings of discomfort. This type of massage may detox the body, and often provides a much-needed mood boost.
  • Reflexology: this type of non-intrusive massage focuses on the energetic pathways and nerve endings in the feet. Rather than applying direct pressure to the area, this treatment is well documented as providing pain relief throughout the body, as well as restoring a sense of emotional balance.

Trigger points for period pain

If you’re suffering during your period, it’s worth trying a professional massage (always advise your therapist if you book during this time) However if you can’t book, here are also a few trigger points you can target on your own, such as:

  • Raise your pelvis: lying flat on your back, place one flat hand on top of the other and place both under your tailbone. This will slightly raise your pelvis. Breathe deeply into this position.
  • Belly press: still lying flat and using either or both hands, press gently on the spot two inches below your belly button. Increase the pressure as feels comfortable.
  • Pubic bone: using the flat of your hands, press down on your pubic bone. Then, using your fingers, apply targeted pressure along the top of the bone, moving out to the hip joints. You should be able to feel any areas of increased tension. Hold your press here until the discomfort starts to subside.
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