Updated: Jan 7
How are your joints? Do they ache? Are you only in your 40s or 50s? One of the major symptoms of the perimenopause that creeps up on us is how achy we feel , with joints and muscles. You’ve got a long time left in your body with so many creaks and pains, so let’s get them sorted. Joint problems can be relieved by understanding what is going on and what you can do about it.
How do you know if what you’re feeling is the bone quality of your joint, as opposed to the tightness of your muscles, or a lack of fluid movement? I can tell this as a therapist when you come to see me, and then resolve these issues but I thought I would try explain how you can help and support your joints.
You only have one set of joints, once cartilage wears out then you’re on an expanding waiting list for the NHS replacements, for hips and knees. But what about wrists, thumb joints, shoulders and necks?
Another issue with women's bone quality is the loss of density with the decline of estrogen, making bones more vulnerable to breaking. This happens when we get closer to the Menopause and the cessation of periods where estrogen has depleted by 75% and it also affects holding onto water in our body , this directly relates to the fluid in the joints. Add that to the loss of collagen too, which is the quality of out skin, tendons and ligaments which hold the joints together and you can see that the menopausal change can really take its toll on our joint and bone health. The good news is there is lots we can do about it, from supplements to lifestyle changes, and to avoid Osteoporosis (loss of bone density) post menopause it really is important to make some changes and this is one of the 2 major issues facing women, and why HRT advocates insist you need HRT. If you make changes to support your bone health then it isn't necessary to go on HRT; that then becomes a personal choice for you.
Caring for our joints can be a rounded holistic approach, not just popping a glucosamine supplement and hoping that’s enough. Take back control of your joint health, really understand what’s going on, and then do everything you can to prevent further degradation, and in fact, turn it around so your joints are your friends again, helping you out of bed in the morning, not disabling you!
IT STARTS WITH LISTENING
Really listening to your joint (the sounds!), feeling what is going on, knowing what does/doesn't relieve the pain, ache, or soreness; whether you prefer hot or cold on it when it aches.
There are so many different feelings you can have in a joint, identifying what is really going on in there is the root to resolving your pain effectively and looking to long term joint health improvement. Take these points and use them to increase the longevity of your joints:
DETOX YOUR BLOOD
A highly acid diet, means the more toxins in your blood the more corrosive this is to your cartilage , wearing it down before its time. This maybe felt as grinding in the joint if it's advanced. However if you have a lot of processed foods, stimulants and sugars, then add Cloudy/ cold pressed Apple Cider Vinegar into your diet plus eat plenty of vegetables and berries as these are anti-oxidants and combat the toxins. Also Vitamin C and E in your diet are powerful anti-oxidants as well.
Lack of lubrication in the joint will sound like clicks and crunches. And may feel stiff/ cold (especially wrists!) ; but better with movement. Massage the joints to get the blood and fluids moving around, keep them warm, and jiggle them to loosen muscles and tightness, you can prevent Carpal tunnel syndrome this way.
Tightness in the joint, like the knees, are they difficult to bend? Look to your muscle flexibility and include long slow stretches, especially good to open the knee joint. Kneeling regularly is great for opening tight knee joints, and the pigeon yoga pose for hips (just google!)
Weak muscles allow joints to feel unstable, maybe your knee 'gives way' - Strengthen your quad muscles to gain more control over sitting and standing with ease. Not only do strong muscles protect joints, they also protect if you fall too, this is good for post menopause to prevent broken bones.
Does one leg feel longer than the other? Do you favour leaning on one leg over the other especially when you're stood up and chatting? You more than likely have a pelvic imbalance. If you hips are out not only does that affect the hips, knees and ankles, and puts pressure into the heel (plantar fasciitis) or exacerbate pressure on the big toe joint, it also affects upwards - how straight your spine is, gives you opposite shoulder pain and puts tension through your neck which is trying to hold up quite a heavy load (your head!). This is one for the professionals, to resolve. I do it sympathetically by muscle massage and release. I don't believe in bone clicking, that just causes trauma. Your in safe hands with me if you'd like to have your pain resolved gently :)
NUTRITION FOR YOUR JOINTS
During the menopause transition a stress is put on your adrenal health and if you add in that you have a stressful life this takes its toll on the amount of nutrition that reaches your bones. They are first in the queue after blood, but think of tendons and ligaments, they have no direct blood supply and can therefore lack in nutrients. Stress releases cortisol, and this leeches the nutrients we have in our diet therefore we need to put back in. If you're now extremely tired after exercise when you didn't used to be, and you take longer to recover, you are depleted of nutrition. Supplements to add in – age appropriate Multi vitamin, Magnesium, plus additional Vitamin D and Calcium.
If you're peri/post menopausal in losing 75% of your estrogen you'll have lost almost the same in collagen, this appears visibly as sagging skin, but also it affects the quality of your tendons ligaments, and in extreme cases slows down wound healing. To combat this you need to repopulate collagen and stimulate growth, this can be done with taking a collagen supplement and taking very high doses of Vitamin C.
Again as your body changes your health requires changes to support the wear and tear on your joints, plus a increased loss in muscle mass means targeting your exercise effectively. The types of exercise you do can be altered for the better, cutting down on high impact and hard cardio and thoughtfully replacing with moderate impact, increasing flexibility and balance!
READY TO GET STARTED
There are specific ways in which I can help you with your joints. Firstly the supplements you need are available in one handy place here: SHOP SUPPLEMENTS
If you'd like to join in a group experience to learn about how to alleviate all your symptoms naturally then the WAITLIST for 28 Days to a Happier and Healthier Menopause is open!
If you'd like to get started on reading about how you can help yourself then 'Understanding Your Menopause' is my easy to read book with over 80 pages of information and practical solutions for you to implement.
And if you haven't already downloaded '7 Quick, Simple Tips to a Fabulous Menopause' then it's here and it's packed full with the information you need to get started on transforming how you feel back into the woman you want to be!
See all the ways in which Andrea can help you at Cotswoldmenopause.co.uk