So, that title is definitely sarcasm. The stretches I am about to link you to are anything but sexy. You will look like a pretzel, like a frog, like you’re in stirrups at the gynaecologist, but I can almost guarantee you won’t look sexy (although you do you, of course).
So why am I talking about unsexy stretches? Because they can really help when you’re having a flare-up of endometriosis, or even on a good day when you want to try and put off the next flare. They aren’t a painkiller, of course; they won’t get rid of the agony. However, if you can do them, they will help relax your body and stretch out the pelvis. This may relieve some of the cramping. Relaxing the body can also help you deal with the pain better – holding tension in the body makes pain feel worse. Trying not to tense up during a painful flare is SUPER hard, but these stretches can force you into it.
Worst case, they’ll make you break wind, which might be embarrassing but can also be a relief, given the common connection between endo and the bowels.
I admit this post is short and really isn’t my work – I want this to be a collation of resources for fellow sufferers who are looking for some good ways to ease a tense pelvis. Please feel free to drop some other poses, stretches or gentle movements that help you in the comments – these ones help me the most but other people may have found some alternative amazing ones.
As with all exercise, if this makes things worse for your endo, stop!
I now present to you the best stretches I have encountered for my pain:
EIGHT STRETCHES ROUTINE
These eight positions from the Pelvic Pain Foundation vary from, “yes, normal people do that stretch” to “please don’t do that in public, you weirdo.” However, they all help relax the pelvis and open the hips. Relaxed Goddess (the sixth one) is my favourite. It can be very painful to ease into but it provides the most relief for me. I also love Child’s Pose because it helps the pain I get in my lower back.
For an alternative routine, check out this collection of six stretches. There’s some overlap, but this routine uses a supported spinal twist and cobra.
Pigeon pose is another hip opener. More open hips = a more relaxed pelvic floor. It also makes sitting down more comfortable, especially cross-legged. This handy guide gives you a warm-up on how to get there using a position from the eight-stretch routine above.
Cat-cow is more for the back than the last pelvis. The gentle movements help stretch out cramped back muscles and elongate the torso front and back. This guide is a good read as it contains some modifications for people with neck injuries.
I know this looks like just lying on your back like a ninny, but honestly, lying out flat and focusing on relaxing is as much of a challenge sometimes as twisting yourself into bizarre shapes – particularly when you’re in a lot of pain. This pose is worthless if you don’t work at it. Pair it with structured breathing and focus on each part of your body at a time, taking the time to notice and feel each part, and releasing the tension piece by piece. Unclenching the jaw, smoothing out the brow, lowering the shoulders, unlocking the joints. If lying flat hurts too much, try tucking a pillow under your knees or neck to create some natural, supported bends in the body. Lying flat on my back puts a lot of strain on my lower back, but putting a pillow under my knees or even lying on the floor with my lower legs up on a chair has the same effect without the strain.
I like to end a series of stretches with corpse pose, particularly if I do them before bed.
Try this guide for a detailed step-by-step and video.