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Exercising with Endometriosis

In women of childbearing age, each month, the uterus lining builds and then sheds during the menstrual period. For about 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44, the lining goes haywire and grows outside the uterus—a condition called endometriosis. Endometriosis causes symptoms such as bleeding, digestive problems, infertility, and severe pain. As such, the condition can not only interfere with a regular exercise routine, but also with daily life. 1

No doubt, exercising with endometriosis can be tricky. While there are some ways exercise will help to alleviate symptoms, there are also some exercises to avoid with endometriosis.. Overall, it’s just as important for women with endometriosis to stay healthy and fit.

How Exercise Can Help with Endometriosis 

Research shows exercise helps reduce inflammation, increase antioxidants, and lower estrogen , all of which may ease symptoms and make living with endometriosis easier. It’s not clear, however, whether exercise affects the course of the disease. 2 Therefore, at this point, exercise doesn’t appear to be a treatment for endometriosis but rather a way to deal with its side effects.

Exercise can help reduce endometriosis pain 

When you exercise, you loosen your muscles and ligaments, which helps you move better. Physical activity also releases natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins, which can ease endometriosis discomfort. Plus, as you move through your Curves workout, you focus on exercise rather than the pain. 3

The right exercise can also help strengthen your pelvic floor 

Some women with endometriosis have scar tissue and adhesions. A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found women with endometriosis who did an eight-week specialized exercise program designed to strengthen their pelvic floor had significantly less pain. 4

A regular workout plan boosts your mood

Research shows women with endometriosis are at increased risk for depression and anxiety. 5 By regularly engaging in a full body workout like the Curves circuit, not only can you reap the physical benefits of exercise, you can help fight the mood disorders that often go along with endometriosis.6

The Best Exercises if you have Endometriosis 

Living with endometriosis means different things to different women but most sufferers describe pain in the lower back and pelvis. The best endometriosis exercises are those that target and lengthen and stretch these areas, such as glute stretches and exercises that stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the lumbo-pelvic region. These exercises include the following:

Side lying leg raises: Lie on one side with your forearms on the floor and upper hand in front of your body. Brace your abdominal muscles and bring your bottom leg slightly in front of your top leg, allowing the inside of your top foot to rest on the ground. Lift the upper leg up toward the ceiling, keeping your hips stacked. Pause for two seconds, then lower the leg back down. Do 10-12 reps and repeat on the other side. 7

Squats with chair assistance: Place a chair just behind you, your feet about hip-width apart. Contract your abdominals as you bend your knees and slowly squat downward toward the chair. Keep your head up and your torso straight as you send your hips back. You can extend your arms out in front of you for balance if you want. Pause just above the chair or sit just briefly in it. Make sure your knees do not go farther forward than your ankles. Then contract your glutes to lift yourself back up, starting to extend your legs. Continue to extend your legs until you are back in a standing position. Do one to three sets of 10-16 reps. 8

Glute bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor in front of you. Drive through your heels to push your hips upward as far as you can go. Hold for a few seconds, then bring your glutes back down to the floor. Do one to three sets of 10-16 reps. 9

Bird dog: Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. As you engage your pelvic floor muscles, raise and extend your left arm in front of you and your right leg behind you at the same time. Flex your glutes so you form a straight line from your left hand to your right foot. Hold for a few seconds, then return to start. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Do 10-12 reps. 10

Exercises to avoid with endometriosis 

While there are some physical benefits of exercise for women with endometriosis, there are also some exercises to avoid. These include high intensity abdominal exercises that stress the lower back and abdominal wall, such as crunches. Women exercising with endometriosis should also avoid high impact exercises, such as burpees, box jumps, or running. 11

Remember, just like each woman with endometriosis experiences different symptoms, what’s good for one woman may differ from what’s good for another. Before you start a workout plan, talk with your health care professional and consider meeting with a certified exercise physiologist experienced in helping women living with endometriosis. They can provide a safe and effective workout routine that will allow you to reap the health benefits of exercise without worsening your symptoms or condition.

For more information about Curves, visit https://www.curves.com/about/why-curves.

 

References:

  1. Endometriosis
  2. Endometriosis and physical exercises: a system review
  3. 4 Ways Exercise Can Help Endometriosis
  4. Efficacy of exercise on pelvic pain and posture associated with endometriosis: within subject design
  5. Endometriosis alters brain electrophysiology, gene expression and increases pain sensitization, anxiety, and depression in female mice
  6. 4 Ways Exercise Can Help Endometriosis
  7. Side Lying Leg Raise
  8. Squat Variations for the Buns, Hips and Thighs
  9. Glute Bands: 9 Ways to Strengthen Your Bum Using Only a Resistance Band
  10. How To Do Bird Dog And Not Completely Lose Your Balance
  11. Exercise for Endometriosis
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