Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about why good posture matters in the menopause.
How posture can impact your menopause
So, why does good posture matter in the menopause?
Muscles & joints
One problem in the menopause is that falling hormones can affect our muscles and joints which can affect and weaken our posture. This, in turn, can have a direct effect on some of the menopause symptoms that we may be experiencing and can, in some cases, make them worse.
So, why does this happen? The main thing is falling oestrogen. Falling oestrogen can affect the strength and stability of our bones and our joints. Our muscles can get weaker as well, which means it takes more effort for us to stand up straight and to have good posture. If we have sore knees or sore hips, very often we will tend to favour the side that's less painful and that can have a very marked effect on our posture.
Obviously, if the bones are weakening, then we can also become more prone to osteoporosis. The joints can then become less stable. And again, some of them (especially in the neck and the upper back) can start to crumble and that can produce what we would call the Dowager's hump which, again, can have quite a profound effect on our posture.
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Fatigue & sleep
If our joints and muscles are out of line, the body has to work that much harder in trying to keep everything stable. This uses up energy and, if we're already fatigued, then this can have a marked effect on our sleep and our mood if we're not getting a good night's sleep.
Mood & pain perception
You will also find that your mood is lower and your pain perception can decrease increase. So, it can create this really negative cycle as far as the joints and the muscles are concerned.
What can also happen is, if we're tending to hunch a lot, that can compact our digestive system. And we know that falling oestrogen can affect our digestion anyway.
Poor posture, especially in the upper body, can have a direct effect on stomach function that, in turn, may create acid reflux and indigestion. It can also give you a lot of wind.
The other thing that can happen which I find really interesting is period changes. In fact, a lady just contacted me recently to say that she'd started to have very frequent periods as she was approaching the menopause.
She went to a chiropractor for a general check-up, and he told her that her hips were out of line and that was having a direct effect on her periods. And, amazingly, after some treatment where everything was put back to normal, her periods went back to normal as well.
So, as you can see, something seemingly unconnected like your posture can be a big factor in the menopause, so it's well worth checking all these things out..
The other thing that can happen is that, if we start to lose our posture, if we get that little bit of a hunch at the back, it can affect the way we look.
This can affect our self-esteem and can have an effect on our confidence too.
How to maintain good posture during menopause and beyond
So, how can you maintain good posture?
Check your posture
You need to be aware of whether your posture is good or not. One of the things you can do is to stand in front of a mirror and, if you're just standing as you would normally, your palms should be facing towards your legs and your thumb should be facing forward.
Watch your shoulders
Very often, if you start to slouch or if you find your shoulders or your back going, your palms will start to turn out. So that's a really good indication that things might be starting to slip, so double-check that.
If you're like me and you spend a lot of time at a desk, you should be wary of this. When I'm in the office, I usually find that I start off sitting up straight in the morning and then, towards 5 o'clock, I find I end up getting really hunched over my desk, especially if I'm doing a lot of keyboard work.
So, again, regularly check your posture when you're sitting at a desk. Take a couple of deep breaths and you can just gently roll your shoulders back and down. That can make a lot of difference as well, especially if you find that you get neckache or backache on a regular basis.
Also, make sure that you keep moving. This is part of the problem, especially when we're deskbound – our muscles and joints end up being placed in one position for an awful long time, and your joints can seize up.
I find that if I tend to go more than about an hour at my desk, you know, I start to hobble as I get up because my hips tend to get a little bit stiff.
So, make sure that you do get that regular time standing up and maybe walking about and just, again, keep your shoulders back.
Get your eyes checked
Get your eyes checked because one of the things that can happen is that, if you start to squint when you read, your head and your face very often goes forward and that, again, can affect your neck and your shoulders too.
So, if you're doing a lot of peering, and hunching over your computer at work, then definitely get your eyes checked out.
Consult a practitioner e.g. Physical Therapist or Chiropractor
The other thing you can do is go and see a practitioner who specialises in posture-related problems. If you're getting any joint aches and pains, if you feel things are out of line, or somebody's mentioned that, you know, you look as if you're a little bit uncomfortable, this can help.
Chiropractors are great because they can usually tell very quickly what's out of line and give you a program.
Look at Pilates. This is a fabulous therapy/exercise for getting things back under control. And it can help to strengthen your core muscles, which can have a huge impact on your general posture as well.
You can also look at the Alexander Technique. This is another great one that can sometimes work really quickly at helping you to get your posture and any related problems sorted out too.
The other thing you can do is to have a look on YouTube. This is great for finding out exercises and other issues that are connected to your posture.
So, I hope you found this one helpful. If any of you out there have any other tips, maybe for helping yourself while you're at your desk at work, or any other exercises or therapies that you have found to be really helpful with your posture, then please do share them with us.