feetThe next time you get menstrual cramps, I’d like you to try something:

First, give your menstrual cramps a pain rating, for instance, 1 for mild, 5 for moderate and 10 for severe.

Then, reach down to the top of your foot and find this spot: Put your finger on the place where your big toe and next toe join, then move in about one-and-a-half inches toward your ankle. (Here’s a guide to help you locate the spot.)

Next, using your fingertip, press that spot and make small clockwise circles for two minutes. Switch feet and do this again. Repeat once more.

When you’re done think about the pain level of your menstrual cramps again. Chances are, it’s gone down.

How can this be? It’s a result of acupressure, an ancient Chinese technique that involves pressing or massaging specific points on the body to trigger certain beneficial changes. For example, some points boost alertness. Some points ease constipation. And some points relieve nausea and vomiting.

And, according to a new study as well as numerous previous studies (such as this, this and this), this easy technique eases the pain of menstrual cramps, too.

How’s it work? The answer to that depends on who you ask: Traditional acupressure practitioners attribute these changes to a balance of “ch’i” (energy) in the body. Modern scientists seem to agree that pressing certain points on the body triggers the production of brain chemicals (such as endorphins and serotonin) that lower pain perception and induce relaxation–key to overcoming many types of discomfort, including menstrual-related pains.

Whatever makes it effective, it’s clear that this simple treatment can help you cut down on over-the-counter painkillers and can be done in many places, giving you an easy on-the-go cramp pain remedy right when you need it.

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Gabrielle Lichterman is a longtime women’s health and lifestyle journalist whose articles have appeared in dozens of major magazines and newspapers around the globe including Cosmopolitan, CosmoGIRL, Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Daily News and Woman’s World. Gabrielle began developing Hormonology and the Hormone Horoscope in 1999 and has been sharing menstrual cycle-related research and tips through her apps, blog, book and newsletter ever since. Learn more at MyHormonology.com.

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[Photo: Charli Lopez]

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