If the hot water bottle and family-sized Dairy Milk isn’t working, massage can help you feel better both before and during your period. Here’s how.
Every woman reacts differently to her period so what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. “As long as you feel comfortable doing so, it’s a good idea to tell your therapist where you are in your cycle, especially just before or during your period,” says massage therapist Karen. “If you’re suffering from water retention or a bad back, mention it. You may also want to talk about whether you would prefer a firm or gentle pressure as your time of the month can affect how you want to be touched.”
Effleurage (long, circular stroking movements) can help with water retention and gentle abdominal massages can help with cramps – although it’s not for everyone, so tell your therapist if you’d rather they didn’t do this. Some women also become constipated or find it more difficult to sleep before their period and a relaxing massage (rather than an invigorating sports massage, for example) can help with both these issues, says Karen. While many will prefer abdominal massage to be gentle, a deeper massage is fine as long as there are no contraindications, and a firm pressure in the small of your back can often help with back pain. But it’s up to you – tell your therapist what you think will help you most.
Reflexology of both the hands and feet can also be very effective for relieving menstrual cramps. One study of 68 women with period pain found that reflexology could be more effective at relieving period pain than ibuprofen.
Karen also says she will often suggest some aftercare to clients suffering from period pain: “The Cat-Cow stretch is a good one. On all fours, you round your back upwards like a cat and then lift your head and drop your back downwards a few times.”