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Should You Skip a Workout If You Have Bad Cramps?

We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Self here on POPSUGAR Fitness!

Source: Thinkstock

We'd love to give you a pass, but every expert we polled said that exercise is nature's Midol. You break a sweat and you get a rush of happy-making endorphins — key at that time of the month when they're naturally at their lowest levels, says Pinar Kodaman, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Yale University. Those same endorphins dull the effects of prostaglandins, chemicals that trigger cramps, which means any workout you do — run, pilates, boot camp — is like popping a painkiller. If you need insta-relief before you can even think about the gym, try this prep pose from Chicago yogi Allison English.

The Move: Legs Up the Wall

Source: Terry Doyle

Lie faceup with legs extended up wall, feet flexed, arms at sides. Place rolled towel under hips. Hold 3 minutes.

Why It Works

  • Pressing into the towel helps release tension in the lower back.
  • Your pelvis is tilted up, changing circulation and easing cramps.

Add a Cool Mind Trick

Repeat a word that sums up how you want to feel post-workout (i.e., better!); it will help convince you to get moving.


Source: Richard Kinnier, Ph.D., psychology professor at Arizona State University in Tempe

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kemacr5 kemacr5 4 years
@TheLittleMonster- I have to agree. I'm in full training mode for marathon season- it's a season here in Alaska, for obvious weather reasons-but I can't hack it when I have cramps. I've tried lots of times, just made up my mind to push through hoping for all those pain blocking benefits and not only do they never arrive, but I'm totally convinced that running with cramps makes them significantly worse. I feel you on the whole vomiting and passing out bit too, but I feel like my pain never gets that bad until AFTER I try to run through it. Maybe it's different for other girls out there but on this one I'm saying if you've already got gnarly cramps, take a sick day from the gym and make it up later!
TheLittleMonster TheLittleMonster 4 years
Sorry, but I'm not convinced. I'm usually very good at pushing my limits and heading out the door for a workout even when I'm not feeling it. But when it comes to cramps, I can't do it. The pain is so bad that I sometimes throw up and/or pass out. You can literally see all the blood drain from my face. I've tried exercising during cramps, but it's impossible to curl myself out of a little ball. The only thing I can do is wait it out and hope I don't have to be anywhere when they hit.
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