Thighs like butter? Ankles have a new girth? Feet gone up a size? Knees and hips creakier?
These are a few of the ways the menopause seems to affect our lower halves, alongside fatigue, insomnia and hot flashes. It’s all normal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also bewildering – and irksome, frankly. How old does it make you feel when somehow overnight it seems to take you 5 minutes to get off the sofa? A few pointers that will help:
Issue 1: MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY
The first one is magnesium deficiency. Now, we know that falling oestrogen can affect the absorption of magnesium and that can have a detrimental effect on lots of different areas in the menopause. We know, too, that poor diet can cause magnesium deficiency, and we also know that stress will burn magnesium up like no one’s business, so magnesium deficiency is really common in the menopause.
Leg problems caused by magnesium deficiency
The types of symptoms you’ll get with magnesium deficiency would be things like cramps, especially at night. You’ll get those restless legs, you know, there you are just dropping off to sleep and suddenly, your legs are dancing all on their own. It can be really painful, and it can take a long time to settle down. You can get pins and needles, and jumpy legs as well.
What can help?
The easiest way to fix this would be getting a magnesium supplement. I would suggest either a powdered magnesium that you can dissolve in water, you can take that just before bed if you want, tablets, if you’re taking a magnesium tablet, are best taken with your evening meal.
For leg cramps especially, there is a tissue salt that you can take (again before you go to bed) called Mag Phos.
Make sure your diet is rich in magnesium foods. That’s green leafy veg, nuts, oily fish (salmon) and fruit like avocado, raspberries and bananas.
Issue 2: FLUID IMBALANCE
As we know, falling oestrogen can interfere with the hormones that control the water balance in the body, which means you can get dehydrated absolutely anywhere as you go through the menopause and very often, you’re not even aware of this particular problem.
So low oestrogen causes it. Few of us drink enough water – it’s all tea, and coffee, and fizzy drinks, and fruit juices. It can also be the fact that you’re getting hot flushes and night sweats. That would dehydrate you as well, and that will interfere with your whole water balance.
Leg problems caused by fluid imbalance
If you’re dehydrated you’re likely to get swollen ankles and legs. You can also get achy tired legs. This can be a contributory factor to hot feet and general dehydration, just as a little aside it’s not to do with the legs, but general dehydration can also cause breast pain as well, so for this particular one, make sure that you’re drinking more than enough water, over and above anything else you’re drinking during the day as well.
What can help?
Plenty of water – 8 glasses of tap water a day. Try golden rod tea, too – A Vogel sell a good one, which is excellent for water retention. The only thing I would say here is if your swollen ankles and swollen legs are there all the time, then please get this checked out by your doctor first, because it could indicate other health issues such as blood pressure problems.
Issue 3: CIRCULATORY PROBLEMS
Oestrogen can make your circulation that bit more sluggish. And a slower circulation can also be to do with the fact that we live a more sedentary life – if you’re not moving enough it will affect the circulation and lymph flow in your legs. Dehdyration doesn’t help if your circulation is sluggish either.
Leg problems caused by circulatory problems
It’s your circulation that can be at the root of swollen ankles and legs. If you’re circulation is slower, and your lymph is sluggish – both because you’re not moving enough (lymph only moves when you do) you’re going to get tired legs, you’re going to get hot legs, you’re going to get restless legs, and possibly end up with varicose veins as well.
What can help?
Issue 4: STRUCTURAL ISSUES
Believe it or not, during menopause our posture can change. It’s all to do with the fact that our joints can be affected, that can pull on our posture, causing problems with our legs as well.
It can be dehydration, too and believe it or not, if you’re sitting at a desk all day, that can affect your shoulders, which in turn can affect your lower back, and your hips, and that can give you leg pain, and that could also give you swollen ankles as well. So any problems with your legs, just check your upper posture as well, and make sure that you’re sitting up straight when you’re at your desk.
Leg problems caused by structural issues
The upshot of this is usually general aches and pains. You might end up with pains in the knees, you might get ankle pains, you can get sore feet. You might find that when you’re walking, that the soles of your feet start to get sore and you’ve never had that problem before, and as I mentioned before, you can end up getting sore hips and just general pain all over.
What can help?
Stretching! Easing this issue is all about doing strengthening exercises – yoga, Pilates and Lottie Berk (barre work) are all ideal for this problem. Maybe go and see a chiropractor if you’ve got a sore back. And if you feel your posture is really bad look at the Alexander Technique.