Muscular health and the menopause
Menopause! Women of different ages can begin to go through perimenopause, although often starting in mid 40’s, and eventually reach menopause (12 months after their monthly periods stop occurring altogether).
Early signs are often subtle and aren’t taken seriously - forgetfulness, hot sweats, mood swings, irregular periods and bloating are just some of the symptoms that women experience during this period of their life. It can be hard to pinpoint and often has negative side effects such as a reduced confidence and heightened anxiety.
In our culture, few sing about the positives of menopause - a celebration of womanhood, maturing with wisdom, a matriarch of the family, and of course no painful periods that are distracting and sometimes just purely embarrassing when caught off guard wearing a pair of white jeans!
Hormones and muscular health
I'm a 40 year old woman and a massage therapist, and I've found over the years a rising interest in the connection between muscular health and hormonal fluctuations in the body. Reduced hormonal distribution such as oestrogen during the menopause is often concurrent to deterioration of muscular health and function. Research shows oestrogen acts as a regulator of muscle energy and cellular metabolism thus stabilising muscle cell health.
"It has already been well established that the male sex steroid, testosterone, is an important regulator of muscle size. Now we showed that also the female sex steroid, estradiol, has a substantial regulatory role in muscles," says Academy Research Fellow Eija Laakkonen from the Gerontology Research Center at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Giving the menopause attention it deserves
I’ve been struck by how much the menopause has been discussed lately - in media both news and social - as it finally becomes an issue that once discussed in hushed whispers by women over coffee is now becoming socially acceptable to shout about on mainstream media as midlife women have had enough with the menopause not being taken seriously. In combination with women living longer and contributing to the workplace until later in life, menopause is now becoming an issue businesses want to talk about.
There are now much needed communities of women bringing this issue to light and helping to educate girls, women and the rest of the society about the changes we need to make to improve this phase of life for all affected.
If you feel that you may be in perimenopause but are not sure, The WomenHood is a great source of information for this topic and many other challenges of womanhood. You can purchase a recording of their recent virtual event It’s Not You It’s Your Hormones for £12.95, which gives a great overview of all of your hormones and how to identify whether you may be in perimenopause.
In the lead-up to World Menopause Day on 18th October, Jess from The WomenHood will be covering the topic in more detail with Instagram lives (@thewomen_hood). You can sign up to their mailing list here to stay informed.
Frozen shoulder anecdotally affects menopausal women more than men (of a similar age). There has been little research into frozen shoulder, which is a debilitating, painful condition and can reduce a person's movement drastically for months on end before ‘thawing’. There is often no known cause of frozen shoulder but the link to muscular health and hormonal fluctuation is interesting and may be the key to understanding this condition more. Massage and physiotherapy plus application of heat or ice can help increase movement and alleviate frozen shoulder.
Hormone fluctuations can have adverse effects on muscles and there are many massage techniques that help alleviate this. To help release a frozen shoulder, I combine elements of clinical massage, table shiatsu, trigger point therapy, hot stone therapy, myofascial release and stretching. Treatments vary for each client, after a thorough consultation, appropriate therapies are discussed to aid with increasing pain free movement. To make this more affordable we offer a 3-treatment bundle for 60 minute or 90 minute massages at Rest.
You can find the details of this on our offers page. If you would like a free consultation, please contact me (Ruth) on 07866700976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org