Massage and the menopause
Can massage help menopause?
Massage is an enjoyable and relaxing experience. It is also known to release tension in muscles and joints. Yet it has many other therapeutic values many of which are beneficial for women in menopause. Massage reduces fluid retention and swelling, stimulates blood circulation and promotes the lymphatic system.
Massage for menopause symptoms
Difficulty sleeping, low mood and anxiety are just some of the symptoms of menopause. A full list of symptoms can be found on the NHS Website.
Despite the absence of a control group, a 2011 study found that massage improved sleep in menopausal women suffering insomnia. They also found that Massage relieves anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of menopause can include joint pain and inflammation. This in turn can lead to joint stiffness and loss of range of movement. Changes in posture can occur as a result of this. Causing both joint and muscle aches at the same time as a result of tendons being pulled. This commonly occurs in the back, shoulders and hips although can occur anywhere in the body. This can also result in or cause tension headaches.
Does massage help balance hormones?
Menopause is a natural part of aging for any women and as menopause occurs oestrogen levels start to decline. Stress at any age leads to the depletion of oestrogen and testosterone stores in the body.
Massage can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and can boost our happy hormones serotonin and dopamine and increase endorphins
Falling estrogen levels can affect the hydration of the joints, ligaments and tendons. This in turn can affect the joints in several ways.
In a 2017 review article it was found that autoimmune diseases in women are most likely due to changes in oestrogen levels during mental, physical, pre-menopausal, post-menopausal, and pregnancy-induced stress. Testosterone and estrogen have obvious effects on the expansion of regulatory T cells and therefore the immune system. A recent BBC documentary showed the link between massage and improving the immune system (Facebook page link)
With the evidence that massage reduces stress it could be used as a measure to reduce auto immune events
Massage and hot flushes
One of the main questions we get asked about massage during menopause at our massage therapy clinic in Truro is:
Will the Hydrotherm system be uncomfortable due to hot flushes? We can adjust the heat to keep you comfortable by reducing the temperature of turning the heat system off completely.
There is also the theory that strained muscles in the back or change of spinal alignment could lead to hot flushes, so if both of these symptoms started around the same time they may be connected!
Our guest blog writer…
I have asked my friend and therapist Bettina to contribute to this blog. Here she discusses hot flushes, one of the most bothersome effects of Menopause for many women. Bettina explores what happens in the body and suggests a perhaps surprising way of finding relief.
As a Therapist, I support the emotional wellbeing and healing of women with breast cancer. Many of my clients experience sudden onset Menopause due to the hormone suppressants medication they need to take. What really surprised me is how intensely overwhelming this experience is for many women, after all, they have just come through a Cancer diagnosis and treatment, should dealing with Menopause symptoms not be a doddle compared with that? Well, it is not, and HRT to bolster Oestrogen and Progesterone levels is a no-go for breast cancer patients. So what happens and what can they do?
While the exact correlation between hormone levels and hot flushes is still being investigated, we know that hormone changes influence temperature regulation in the brain and effectively shrink the range between the lowest and the highest external temperatures the body can deal with while maintaining a stable core temperature. This means that the experience of overheating and sweating profusely will be triggered sooner and much more frequently than before Menopause.
The role of stress
We also know that stress, be it physical or emotional, plays a major role in how badly women suffer with hot flushes. When stress is triggered, the body reacts with rapid breathing, increased heart rate and increased energy release leading to a rise in body temperature. No wonder that stressful thoughts and situations keep pushing the body constantly beyond the now reduced level of an easily manageable temperature. Anecdotally, I often hear from women who are working in socially exposed jobs, such as teachers for instance, how stressed they become just at the thought of having a hot flush while at work. Simply this worry can be enough to actually bring one on, while the awareness of rising heat and reddening cheeks then quickly turns into a panicky feeling increasing stress levels even further. A vicious cycle!
Tapping for stress release and acceptance
I teach my clients Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques, short EFT) to release the stress response at the first inkling of a hot flush coming on. The beauty of this method is that you carry it with you, literally at your fingertips for use when it is needed. Tapping on easily accessible acupoints on the face or hands sends electrical signals to the stress centre of the brain, immediately calming down the Autonomic Nervous System. Call it emotional first aid.
Even better, when used as a regular self-care and de-stressing tool, the body gets used to the fact that a beginning hot flush does not necessarily need to lead to a heightened stress response. That means fewer and less bothersome episodes, even during the night improving sleep duration and quality. “I used to wake at least 6 times a night from night sweats. Now I wake twice at the most and the night sweats don’t bother me anymore. I just think, ‘oh well, my body is doing its job’ and fall asleep again.” Breast Cancer Haven visitor.
In order to find out more about Tapping and the Menopause see https://taptoflow.com/hot-and-flustered-mess-tap-away-hot-flushes/
Or request a free chat with Bettina here email@example.com