Massage + Menopause: How Feeling Good Is Good For You

Massage for Menopause in Boulder

Do you have whispered conversations in the corner of parties about your menopause symptoms? Do you wear a fan around your neck for those incessant hot flashes? Are you struggling with insomnia, stress or migraines? Regular massage could help ease your symptoms! With the National Institutes of Health suggesting that up to 76% of women are seeking Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) solutions to menopause through acupuncture, diet, yoga, herbs and exercise, we deserve to know more about the positive benefits of massage therapy. Well Woman Acupuncture specializes in massage for menopause in Boulder. 

 

Despite the increase of women seeking solutions from CAM, there are virtually no evidence-based studies on massage for menopause. Perhaps this is because of the general confusion on how to best approach menopause in general? Menopause symptoms range in complexity: you might not have the same symptoms as your mother, sister or friend; you may start experiencing changes anywhere from age 35-50; you may have other health concerns that get added to the mix. It makes sense that there are not a lot of universal answers. Even in the 1940’s, in some of the earliest published articles about treatment of “The Menopause” as doctors called it, they were unclear in their approach to menopause—Are there possible dangers of long-term hormone therapy? Are medications that help regulate the nervous system better when paired with psychotherapy? 1However, one symptom noted in many studies as significantly debilitating is insomnia…and up to two-thirds of aging women experience insomnia.

Fast forward to 2014 when a compelling study was released on the beneficial effects of massage for insomnia in postmenopausal women. This study explored the idea that massage therapy could not only help to alleviate insomnia, but could also regulate other symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, anxiety, irritability and depression. They concluded that massage triggers neurochemical reactions that promote relaxation, tranquility, and a general sense of well-being. The study also noted an improvement in sleep quality, a decrease in nocturnal hot flashes and an improvement of perimenopausal symptoms.2These are very exciting results, although in this and almost every other study, the authors stated a need for more research in the area of CAM approaches to menopause management.

 

There has been more research on the effect of massage on pregnancy and prenatal complaints. One study in particular states that participants who combined yoga and massage “had a greater decrease of depression, anxiety…and a greater increase on a [spousal] relationship scale.” 3 This study also found lower urinary cortisol levels—cortisol is a stress hormone that in high levels directly influences anxiety and depression, as well as changes in a woman’s libido. There are a number of studies tracing a link between high cortisol levels and menopause symptoms, where chronic sleep disturbances increased cortisol, which in turn is associated with moderate to severe hot flashes, night sweats and temperature dysregulation.From there it is only a small jump to connect massage therapy—which improves sleep and therefore decreases levels of cortisol—to improved menopause symptoms—which lessen as levels of cortisol decrease.

 

How Massage Can Help You In Menopause

Jeanne feels that there are strong correlations between the positive results found with prenatal massage and the potential for successful management of menopausal symptoms through massage. Her goal is to create a menopause-specific massage session that could help lessen symptoms of insomnia, migraines, anxiety, hot flashes, or decreased muscle tone. Exploring a variety of massage techniques, massage for menopause sessions can include:

  • Improved sleep and decreased vasomotor symptoms
  • Shiatsu pressure points for migraine management
  • Relaxing massage to calm the Central Nervous System
  • Increased blood flow in connective tissue and muscles
  • Support for a woman’s ability to cope with the changes of menopause through connecting more fully with her body

 

Interested in Receiving Free Massage Sessions?

Down the road, Jeanne will be conducting an observational study on this topic. Eligible participants will simply be asked to complete a questionnaire and receive free massage or additional discounts in compensation. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll add you to our contact list!

 

Jeanne Mitchell is a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Certified Infant Massage Therapist (CIMT) and Certified Prenatal, Labor & Postpartum Massage Therapist and has been practicing and teaching massage since graduating Boulder College of Massage Therapy (BCMT) in 2004.

 

References:

  1. Harris, L. (1948). Treatment of The Menopause. Can Med Assoc J, Mar: 58 (3) 251-255.
  2. Hachul, H. et al. “The Beneficial Effects of Massage Therapy for Insomnia in Postmenopausal Women.” Sleep Science2 (2014): 114–116. PMC. Web. 25 June 2018.
  3. Field, Tiffany et al. “Yoga and Massage Therapy Reduce Prenatal Depression and Prematurity.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies2 (2012): 204–209. PMC. Web. 25 June 2018.
  4. Reed, SD et al. “Daily Salivary Cortisol Patterns in Midlife Women with Hot Flashes.” Clinical endocrinology5 (2016): 672–679. PMC. Web. 25 June 2018.

 

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