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8 Tips to Beat the Affects of Menopause on Muscles

8 Tips to Beat the Affects of Menopause on Muscles

Written by Anna Pattison - Clinical Myotherapist and Remedial Massage Therapist | 15th April 2024

Did you know that we have about 650 muscles in the human body and we need them to do anything and everything?

Muscles are essential for overall health. When your muscles are strong, you can confidently lift, reach, move, push and pull. Strong muscles reduce the possibility of injuries, improve body composition, provide a sense of confidence and allow you to recover more quickly from physical activities.

Prior to menopause, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone are responsible for building muscle mass and strength. Oestrogen has a protective effect on muscles, which is why women typically suffer less muscle strains than men throughout their lives. During menopause, oestrogen levels fall, leading to a decline in both muscle mass and strength which can lead to decreased strength, mobility issues and an increased risk of falls and fractures.

When does muscle mass start to reduce?

Muscle mass starts to reduce from the age of 20 years old, due to an imbalance between muscle protein synthesis and breakdown. However, this loss is not the same in each decade or for both sexes. In women, there is an accelerated loss of muscle mass and strength around the time of menopause, possibly making them weaker at 65-69 years old than men aged 85-89 years old.

Women are now living longer than they ever have before, living 30 years plus after menopause. You may experience more pain or sustain injuries more frequently even though your level of activity has not changed. Many women don’t associate their aches and pains with menopause, often thinking it is just part of getting older. In fact, around 40% of women experience musculoskeletal pain between the ages 45-65 which can be associated with perimenopause and menopause.

8 Tips for Helping to Beat the Affects of Menopause

  1. Exercise: Regular but gentle exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming can help to loosen muscle tension and lessen muscle pain. Exercise also releases feel - good endorphins. These are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers.
  2. Strength training: The use of resistance to load your muscles and bones. Using dumbbells, resistance therabands, and weight bearing exercises. Aiming for strength training 2-3 times a week such as squats, lunges and push-ups.
  3. Stretch regularly: Gently stretching your muscles can help ease tension, stiffness and muscle pain. Mindful stretching, together with deep breathing, can also aid relaxation and reduce stress hormones in the body.
  4. Magnesium: Low levels of magnesium in the body can cause muscle aches and muscle cramps. Try to include foods which are high in magnesium in your diet, such as nuts and seeds, dried fruit and dark leafy vegetables.
  5. Protein: The current recommended dietary allowance of daily protein intake is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. This is considered as the minimum to maintain the balance between protein synthesis and breakdown.
  6. Heat: A warm shower or bath is great for soothing muscles as they are a natural muscle relaxer. A heat pack or hot water bottle can help ease tension and relieve muscle pain.
  7. Good Posture: This is really an important point but is often ignored. If your joints, ligaments and tendons are affected, this can alter your whole posture, pulling on your muscles and causing both joint and muscle aches at the same time. This can happen to any group of muscles but mainly the back, shoulders and hips.
  8. Massage: A deep-tissue massage can help increase blood circulation, reduce toxin build-up and soothe muscle pain, tension and stiffness. It can also promote relaxation and reduce stress.

For any further information, please feel free to contact one of our friendly CHH practitioners.