If you’re like me, you wake up every morning with a slightly achy hip or shoulder or lower back. It is an age thing but it is also very much a menopause symptom.
Obviously, there are lots of reasons we become more stiff or achy as we age, it is a natural aging process, however women over the age of 40 do notice it more. The reason menopausal women start to feel stiffer is mainly due to the changes in our oestrogen levels.
Joint pain & stiffness affects as many as 40% of all menopausal women
Oestrogen plays an important role on our body – we have oestrogen receptors everywhere in our body. Oestrogen helps to protect our joints and reduces inflammation, but when levels drop during the menopause, inflammation can increase, making it painful to move freely.
The most commonly affected joints include the hands, shoulders, knees and hips, although all joints can be affected.
There is something called fascia too.
This is connective tissue which is under our skin and covers our body. It is like a cobweb and actually needs to move & stay hydrated, otherwise it gets stuck and can cause stiffness. However, by moving the sore areas, it can start to move the fascia, hence loosen the body.
What can you do for aches & pains
There are many lifestyle changes that can help ease pain and prevent it from getting worse.
The biggest thing you can and really do need to add to your life – is whole body movement. I am a firm believer in just moving the body, in all directions.
I always ask if someone likes to dance. If the answer is yes, then put a good tune on and dance around the kitchen, arms & legs will all be moving and can help loosen you up! So go find some good tunes!
Another thing I offer is some mobilisers. I will go through some with my ladies and create a video for them, depending on what they are in need of.
This is not for everyone, also I don’t know if your pain is due to arthritis or an injury? However, if you have a constant niggle or pain in your back, shoulders, hips, glutes or legs then try using a foam roller or tennis ball.
The ideal way to use a roller is to roll on the sore areas, then stop and breathe into the soreness to let the muscle relax over the ball/roller. The pain should begin to reduce a bit. When it has then roll again and find another sore spot.
It can feel awkward using a roller. Some are really hard and bobbly and can be too much. So start with a tennis ball and try it standing against the wall. You can put more or less pressure when against the wall.
If that is ok then you can move to the floor and use/move your body/legs etc to help roll yourself. Have a look at these videos:
I see my physio every 6 – 8 weeks – mainly as a preventative. I know it is different because I have to keep fit and mobile in my job, but it really is so worthwhile.
Some of you may prefer to see an osteopath or Chiropractor. They are all excellent and I am sure you know what you like. I have contacts to just ask if you want a good practitioner.
I know you need to have money to do all of these alternative therapies, however, if you have niggles and don’t want them getting worse, then it is better to see someone every 2 – 3 months than hardly being able to move and needing to see someone weekly for 4 or 5 weeks.
I have something called Simply health – an insurance policy. I pay a monthly fee (you can choose) and I basically get ½ of the cost of each appointment back. It really eases the costs and means I can carry on getting regular, preventative releases. Ask me & I can send more details.
I think some of these therapies are often overlooked. They can be SO beneficial for you and your pain. It is worth trying different ones to see which help you the most.
These include massage (maybe a fascia or sports massage), reflexology, acupuncture or nutritional advice to help with inflammation.
I have a few contacts with most of these therapies and do use them myself, so please ask if you want to see someone.
Similar to above and just moving, exercise can actually help. It may sound counterintuitive but implementing exercises targeted at the areas causing you pain can in fact help symptoms subside.
Low impact exercises are great as they put less stress the body whilst still strengthening the muscles that support your joints. If you are experiencing pain in your knees or hips try walking more regularly. It may be that you are weak in certain muscles so the other muscles are taking over and causing pain/tightness.
If you are suffering with bad aches & pains then it is worth looking at your diet too. Some foods are very inflammatory, so this is where it may be worth speaking to a nutritionist.
Similarly, you may be lacking certain nutrients – maybe your magnesium, zinc or B vitamins. I am not advising on what to take as I don’t know your health history or if you are on meds. A nutritionist will advise the best for YOU.
I would suggest trying magnesium though. It comes in different forms, but it is known for relaxing muscles.
Epsom Salts / Magnesium baths – they can be a good idea before bed, to help tight or sire bodies.
Maybe look for Magnesium Malate – it has been shown to help relieve pain.
Magnesium spray – you can spray this on the specific areas that are really sore.
When taking any magnesium – get medical advice or speak to a nutritionist if you have thyroid issues or on antibiotics.
Some women find that taking HRT helps to alleviate some common symptoms, including menopausal joint pain.
Some people swear by glucosamine or fish oils. As I said, if it works for you, then great, try it. Otherwise, speak to a nutritionist.
There are lots of options to try – some much cheaper than others. Of course – my usual quote applies here – EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT and will react differently to any of the above.
I still think the 1st port of call is moving & walking more, especially if you are sitting a lot. Try some of the hip releases or put a good tune on – it will make you smile & feel good too!
Have a look at my blogs if you want more on menopause or aches and pains: https://www.vickihill.co.uk/category/menopause-advice/