- you wake in the night with soreness in your hips or/and shoulders so bad that you cant roll over
- when you wake up in the morning your hands or/and feet are stiff and achy
- you wake in the night with aches in elbows or/and neck that are so bad you can barely move
- when you sit for any period of time, long or short, you can hardly get up without severe pain and stiffness
- you get stabbing pains in your fingers or/and toes
More women than you may think experience joint pain and aches. 41% of women approaching menopause and 57% of women 2 years past menopause, report that they experience significant joint pains and aches.
These symptoms can make you feel as if you have been petrified. They can make you feel old …. they can make you feel like things are falling apart and your warranty is up. I can understand it if, on some days, all you want to do is lie in bed all day. But the truth is, tempting as that may be, it would make your symptoms worse.
As you already know, during menopause the levels of estrogen in your body are decreasing. What you may not know, is that estrogen helps to prevent inflammation in your body. Joint pain is caused by inflammation. Low levels of estrogen, during menopause, can lead to increased instances of inflammation and therefore increased joint pain.
Pain relievers and cold or hot packs may offer quick relief, but these are merely temporary. You may think that limiting your movement, will ease your pain. In fact, limiting your movements can weaken muscles and compound your joint trouble. It can affect your posture and set off a cascade of further problems.
What I am about to tell you may be the last thing that you want to hear. Aerobic exercise will provide you with long term relief from your joint pains. I would be surprised if you dont react to this by saying something like “You must be joking. Exercise is the last thing that I want to do … with the way I feel”.
Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about exercise and joint pain
Though you might think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, that’s not the case. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. That’s because keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints.
How does exercise relieve joint pain?
Exercise relieves joint pain in two ways
- Your heart pumps faster during aerobic exercise. This increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients in your blood …. to the inflamed joints….which speeds healing
- When you exercise, your body produces certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit thought from one cell to the next, allowing your brain cells to “talk to each other”. There are several key neurotransmitters, but three of them affect joint pain the most – GABA, endorphins and serotonin. They act like drugs, but are better for you than drugs. GABA reduces inflammation. Endorphins and serotonin reduces pain
You will find that if you do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, the levels of these neurotransmitters in your body will increase, reducing your pain.
If you are not exercising at all, you can start by taking a few “baby steps”. Take a short walk outside…. maybe a walk around the block or down your local street or to a local store ….. even if it is just for 5 minutes. Do this for a few days.
Gradually work your way up to walking for 15 minutes every day. After that, gradually work your way up to walking 30 minutes every day. Once you are doing that, you can continue walking as your daily exercise or you can switch to, or alternate with, other aerobic activities that you may prefer to do.