Juicy joints: 4 moves to keep your joints pain-free during menopause
Author: Carolyne Anthony
Fitness expert, Carolyne Anthony, demonstrates four Pilates moves that will help add flexibility and mobility to your joints and keep menopause joint pain away as your body changes.
Once we start losing our estrogen during menopause we may begin to feel the effects of losing the anti-inflammatory effect this hormone has on our joints. Many times, women get diagnosed with arthritis due to the pain and stiffness they may feel in their joints at this time.
While for some this is a true diagnosis, for many, movement will help ease the pain and keep our bodies “juicy”. There may be a transition period where you must let your body adapt to its new physiology and sometimes you may need to push through a little pain to get to the other side. However, severe pain is never good, and movement should be stopped if this is the case.
One way to keep pain to a minimum is to start with a good warm-up before continuing with your resistance work or any other exercise. 20 minutes of aerobic activity prior to resistance work seems to help prepare the body for more impact or weight bearing exercises, and decreases pain.
Here are four good exercises that I always include in a routine for menopausal women targeting good range of motion and weight bearing on the joints.
These are particularly important at this stage in a women’s life. When we lose the fat deposits surrounding the hips, we lose some of the substance giving us the structure we need. One way to compensate for this is to do exercises that keep the surrounding muscle group active. This next exercise will also keep full range of motion and flexibility in the joint, hopefully keeping the pain and stiffness away.
Exercise 1: Hip rotator
- Begin by lying on your side with both knees bent and one arm under your head, the other arm supporting you.
- Inhale to lift the knee towards the ceiling, keeping the feet together.
- Exhale to lower the knee.
- Repeat up to 8 times.
Exercise 2: Hip opener
- While still lying on your side with both knees bent, inhale to lift the knee towards the ceiling, this time taking the feet apart.
- Exhale to lower the knee towards the floor.
- Inhale to repeat lifting the knee towards the ceiling.
- Exhale to lower towards the floor.
- Repeat 8 times.
We see a lot of shoulder issues in this population for many reasons. One of which is a shifting posture. For some women, a rounding of the spine becomes more prevalent. Overhead shoulder movements become a little harder to perform correctly. This could lead to issues with the shoulder joint itself. However, it is important to keep this area moving. Keeping the body face down (prone) while lifting the arms overhead seems to help keep the shoulder joint “juicy” without any undue stress.
Exercise 3: Shoulder rotator
- Lie prone with your legs straight and elbows on the mat beside you at shoulder level. The arms are bent.
- Inhale to lift the arms off the mat.
- Exhale to move the arms over the head.
- Inhale to return the arms and exhale to lower them back to the mat.
- Repeat 8 times.
Knees and elbows
These joints seem to really play up during the change of menopause. Keeping them strong and moving will help. Use light weights for the arms. This may not be the time to overload the joints if they are sore. Use a step or even the stairs to perform this next exercise. Only lower your body to a point of comfort for your knees.
Exercise 4: Knee and elbow strengthener
- Stand in front of the step with light weights in your hands.
- Exhale and place one foot on the step, bend both knees as you lift the weights towards your shoulders.
- Inhale to press away from the step trying to keep the leg off the floor to help with balance.
- Repeat 8 times.
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About the Author
Carolyne Anthony is the Founder/Director of the Center for Women’s Fitness. Carolyne has been in the Dance, Fitness and Pilates world for over 35 years. She has a Diploma in Dance from The Stella Mann College, UK as well as Pilates Certifications through Polestar, BASI, PhysicalMind and The PMA. Carolyne is an author, Birth Doula, Reiki practitioner, Myofascial release practitioner and an Esoteric Healer. Her company-The Center for Women’s Fitness, is a continuing education organization for women’s health courses, with more than 2000 certified teachers in 40 countries. You can contact Carolyne via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.thecenterforwomensfitness.com