Tips to Avoid Menopause Joint Pain When Running: Background photo of a woman in a pink top doing a standing quad stretch

Tips to Avoid Menopause Joint Pain When Running

Tips to Avoid Menopause Joint Pain When Running: Background photo of a woman in a pink top doing a standing quad stretch

Do you feel like your ankles, knees or feet just go on strike every time you run?

Perhaps you are starting to get calf or hip aches after a faster session? Or maybe you are waking up each morning with joint pain which makes running a chore?

Or maybe those niggles are getting more frequent and your legs just feel heavy most of the time?

You  may be wondering if there is anything you can do about, or if you should just accept this as the fate of a runner in perimenopause.

Well, wonder no more. Here are my tips for women going through perimenopause and menopause who want to avoid joint pain, stiffness and aches when running.

Why do we experience joint aches and pain in perimenopause?

Aches and joint pain during the peri to post menopause are usually attributed to the decline of both estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Our connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, also love estrogen as it helps to reduce stiffness.

Progesterone helps muscles to relax, which means when progesterone decreases muscles can become tight and sore.

So, the decline in both of these hormones can lead to joint pain.

But the good news is, there are things we can do to help our bodies to adjust to the lower levels of these hormones.

Eating for joint health

To counteract the decline in the anti-inflammatory properties of estrogen we can make sure we are nourishing our bodies with foods that are anti-inflammatory.

And a key nutrient which can help is omega 3. This is an essential fatty acid that has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. However, omega 3 can only be obtained through our diet as our body cannot produce this essential nutrient.

So making sure you have plenty of omega 3 in your diet is essential. Good plant-based sources of omega 3 are walnuts, chia, hemp and flax seeds.

Other foods such as berries, dark green leafy vegetables, olive oil and tomatoes are also anti-inflammatory and should be eaten regularly.

One of my favourite post run drinks is a smoothie made with berries, spinach and flax seeds. This has a lot of the anti-inflammatory properties that helps muscle recovery.

Prepare for running and prepare for recovery

To help reduce aches and niggles in your joints when you run a good warm up routine is essential.

This is good advice for all runners, but is particularly important if you are in perimenopause and are experiencing joint pains or aches.

Walking and dynamic movements such leg swings, squats and lunges will get the blood flowing to the muscles and the joints lubricated. Which means your body is better prepared to start running.

But just as important as the warm up is the cool down.

The cool down is when you start your recovery and prepare for your next run. So some simple stretches to give the muscles time to relax and start repairing will be of huge benefit. Stretches for your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles, as well as upper body are ideal.

What time do you run?

Many women going through peri to post menopause find they feel more joint pain and stiffness in the morning when they first get up, which can affect you when running.

This is because the body hasn’t had a chance to move yet and it can take a while before the muscles and joints feel awake.

So, if you usually run in the morning and feel heavy legged, with stiff and aching joints, then try moving your run to later in the day. You may find mid-morning a better time, or even in the evening.

How easy it is to do this will, of course, depend on your work and family commitments.

If you really can’t move your run to much later then give yourself a longer warm up by starting with a 5 minute walk before your dynamic stretches. This will help to get everything moving without the impact of running.

Try active recovery

Recovery days are a really important part of your running routine. This is where the magic happens, where your muscles, heart, lungs and connective tissue start to adapt to the training you have done. This is true even if you aren’t training for a particular goal.

Without recovery running can start to feel harder and what used to be easy paces can start to become more of an effort.

Often people think of recovery as a day of  doing nothing. But, if you are experiencing joint stiffness and aches as part of perimenopause, active recovery may be of more help.

This is because you may find your joint pain eases off with movement, as it’s the movement that helps to lubricate the joints.

So make active recovery part of your day. This means gentle movement. So walking, gentle stretches or mobility, foam rolling, gentle yoga, easy swimming or cycling. Anything that gets you moving but keeps your heart rate low.

What about sleep?

Sleep is a vital part of recovery.

But it is also an area that many women during the peri to post menopause period struggle with. Night sweats, headaches and stress can contribute to a disrupted sleep pattern.

And research has shown that lack of sleep can increase the sensitivity to pain.

Which means making sleep a priority may help both with joint pain when running and help reduce other menopause symptoms.

This means creating a good sleep routine. Things such as no caffeine after midday, keeping exposure to blue light to a minimum at least 2 hours before bed, cut down on alcohol, creating a calm environment in your bedroom, and setting a fixed bedtime, will all help promote better sleep.

And finally, check your shoes

Many runners are quite brand loyal when it comes to shoes. You find a style that works for you and you stick with them.

But, it may be that the type of shoe that worked for you 5 or 15 years ago isn’t working for you now.

So, it may be worth visiting a running shop in person and trying on different brands to see what feels good. You may need more, or less, cushioning than you thought.

However, don’t expect miracles from a shoe.

Make sure you have all the basics covered first as listed above, as these will help you not just when you run but will help to manage your menopause symptoms throughout the day.

Let’s chat

And if you want to talk more about how menopause is affecting your running, let’s chat.

Book your discovery call with me here and we can talk about the things you can do to make running through the menopause joyful again.

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    […] talked about active recovery in my blog about joint pain in menopause but a day of doing nothing is okay […]

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