This blog is for you massage-loving menstruators who may experience menstrual pain. Connective tissue manipulation i.e. massage has been shown to improve period pain.
There are a few studies out there that show that connective tissue manipulation helps significantly with period pain (1,2). Spinal manipulation i.e. chiropractic care, osteopathy, and kinesiology taping also seem to also be helpful, especially for those of you who experience low back pain as well (3,4,5,6).
In a similar fashion, stretching exercises, kinesiology taping, and certain yoga poses (cat, cobra, and fish) also seem to help decrease menstrual pain significantly compared to placebo (7,8).
Some of these studies had very rigorous treatment schedules, for e.g., massage 3 times weekly from day 4 of the cycle until the beginning of flow.
Obviously, more research is needed in the area for more robust parameters because some of these studies didn’t have control groups, only looked at short-term effects, and/or have not been reproduced in the same fashion; however, the two things that are great about these are that (a) they were done in various parts of the world, and (b) most of these therapies are easy to access for most menstruators!
These research studies corroborate what a lot of patients already notice and drive in the importance of regular movement, even if gentle, to improve menstrual health (and overall health!).
One of the things to note with all of these therapies is that they are gentle and may also be used as stress-management and/or self-care activities. Obviously, it’s hard to tease one out from the other, but it’s not unlikely that the movement combined with decreased stress perception could have an impact on menstrual pain. We already know that stress worsens PMS and menstrual pain, so this is a great way to support PMS in different ways.
Get moving, friends — do whatever is accessible to you. A little bit goes a long way!
- PMID: 30396605. Short-term effects of connective tissue manipulation in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized controlled trial. 2018.
- PMID: 26382885 Comparison of Reflexology and Connective Tissue Manipulation in Participants with Primary Dysmenorrhea. 2015.
- PMID: 1535359. The effect of spinal manipulation on pain and prostaglandin levels in women with primary dysmenorrhea. 1992.
- PMID: 24666560 Changes in pain perception after pelvis manipulation in women with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized controlled trial. 2014.
- PMID: 32379680. Effects of kinesio tape application on pain, anxiety, and menstrual complaints in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A randomized sham-controlled trial. 2020.
- PMID: 32598462 Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and Psychosocial Management of Dysmenorrhea. 2020.
- PMID: 28042403. Comparison of the Effect of Stretching Exercises and Mefenamic Acid on the Reduction of Pain and Menstruation Characteristics in Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Clinical Trial. 2017
- PMID: 21514190. Effect of three yoga poses (cobra, cat and fish poses) in women with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial. 2011.