Treadmill workout can help relieve period pain

Painful menstruation or having menstrual cramps can be very annoying and discomforting.

Several methods such as popping over the counter pills as well as home-remedies are tried out by suffering women during this period.

While some self-care methods and home-remedies work to relieve menstrual pain to a great extent, few know that exercise during this period can help too. And that includes treadmill workout too!

woman using hot water bag to relieve period pain

Yes, treadmill workout can relieve period pain. But is it the only exercise to ease pain during menses? No. Then why the emphasis on working out on a treadmill?

But before you seek an answer to your questions, take a look at the reasons that cause menstrual cramps and period pain.

How are menstrual cramps caused?

Dysmenorrhea or painful periods is caused due to strong contractions in the uterus caused by influx of chemicals  called prostaglandins during the menstrual cycle. This in turn, presses the nearby blood vessels briefly cutting off the supply of oxygen to the uterus. It’s this lack of oxygen causes your pain and cramping.

According to WebMD, (1) women who exercise regularly often have less menstrual pain. Exercise boosts the supply of oxygen rich blood to the womb, thereby providing relief. To help prevent menstrual cramps and lessen period pains, exercise should be an integral part of your weekly routine.

Working on a treadmill can reduce period pain

woman working out on a treadmill


A recent research (2) has found out that running on a treadmill three times a week can relieve women of the discomfort of menstrual cramps. Women who used treadmills experienced 22 per cent less pain after six months, compared to those who didn't exercise.

The research, led by Anglia Ruskin University along with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University of Otago and Dunedin School of Medicine, analysed 70 women aged between 18 and 43, who'd been diagnosed with with primary dysmenorrhea.

The primary form of the condition occurs when pain is present during each cycle and is not due to any other disorder. On the other hand, secondary dysmenorrhea is defined as discomfort that is caused by a condition in a woman's reproductive organs, such as endometriosis or fibroids.
Dr Leica Claydon-Mueller, study co-author at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 'Women who have painful periods often take steps to actively avoid exercise – after all when you are in pain it is often the last thing that you want to partake in. However, this trial demonstrated exercise significantly reduced pain for those people taking part in the programme, and they also reported reduced pain levels after four and seven months.'

Dr Priya Kannan, of Hong Kong Polytechnic University adds: 'The evidence supporting the use of aerobic exercise for managing pain, improving quality of life and improving daily functioning has been strengthened by the findings from this research.' 

So should you use the treadmill as an exercise for relieving period pains?

Treadmill workout, as a form of aerobic exercise is frowned upon by most people these days. Working out on a treadmill every day can prove to be a boring monotonous activity as it does not exactly mimic outside running where locations and scenery change as you run and moreover it emits loud monotonous sound that can be irritating and distracting.

Cons of using a treadmill

Yoga guru Shameem Akhtar (3) says that since only the lower limbs are worked out in treadmill training, there is high stress on the joints -- like the knees and lower back (at the spine). The knee joint can wear out gradually due to overuse and misuse of treadmill.

And as balancing on a treadmill is tricky, most people when they hike up the uphill elevation end up walking wrong, hugely stressing the back, Shameem adds.

Furthermore treadmills can lead to loss of agility as you don't get to run on an uneven ground but instead the ground under you moves and also you don't use as many muscles when walking on a treadmill as you do while running outdoors.

The tragic death of Mike Tyson's daughter (4) in a treadmill accident also highlights the dangers in using a treadmill incorrectly and mentally switching off when on a treadmill.

man working on a treadmill

Are Treadmills really unsafe and bad?

According to physical therapist Dr. Jamey Schrier, (5) "The treadmill is not bad for your body, the body is bad for the treadmill.". He explains that treadmill isn’t always the culprit of our injuries, whether it’s shin splints or knee pain. Schrier says often users already have a predisposition to an injury that they aren’t aware of, which is only exacerbated by overuse of the treadmill.

Safety while using treadmills

If you have never used a treadmill and intend to use it for the first time, never attempt to operate it on your own. (6)  Always ask  an exercise specialist or trainer for a demonstration or assistance. Before stepping on the machine, make sure you know where the on/off switch is, how to work the controls and what to do during an emergency and all the associated stuff. Never step on or off the belt while it’s moving and wear appropriate footwear meant for the exercise machine. A slight incline of about 3 percent  can reduce shock on the legs and knees by 24 percent but anything more than that can increase stress on the joints.

Which is better? Treadmill or walking and yoga

woman working on treadmill, woman walking, woman doing yoga


Any form or exercise is beneficial to our health and if research shows that exercising at least thrice a week can help with painful menstruation why shouldn't it be incorporated in our daily routine!

What I believe is,  you need not necessarily go to the gym to workout on a treadmill to tackle period pains!

Instead of gym, you can go for brisk walks thrice a week or do yoga which can  provide more benefits and also boost psychological health.

And do remember - walking at a comfortable pace even when you are having painful periods is not a debilitating activity - in fact, it's far more enjoyable as it distracts from your pain.

I'd any day prefer walking to working out on a treadmill. However, when the weather is not great, say when it's raining or snowing, venturing out for a walk isn't the best idea.

During such times, go and workout on treadmills at the gym by all means! However do take care of all the safety precautions.

There are certain yoga poses such as Baddha Konasana, Sapta baddha Konasana, Titli asama (butterfly pose), balasana,  shavasana etc. which provide considerable relief during menstruation and are not disconcerting for dysmenorrhea sufferers. You can try that also after learning it from a learned yoga instructor.

So how do you tackle painful menstruation and cramps? What home care methods do you follow? Which home-remedies or yoga poses have helped you? Do you go to the gym for treadmill training? Do you  enjoy working on treadmills? Do share in the comments.


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