My life and my health changed for the better when I found shiatsu, I loved it so much that I was on the 3 year practitioner training course less than 4 months after receiving my first one! I’ve had a regular monthly treatment ever since as I find it helps with relieving stress alongside physical ailments and issues. It’s a truly holistic therapy working on the mind and body together, and as women enter perimenopause and their body starts to change hormonally stress is a major factor in the severity of symptoms. This month’s blog explores Can Shiatsu help relieve my menopause symptoms is the ultimate therapy for women going through the menopause!
Can shiatsu help relieve my menopause symptoms?
Shiatsu is a Japanese word that means finger pressure, but this is the tip of the iceberg in what's really going on, and knowing which points to press on your body comes from the same acu points and chinese meridians system as you'd know from acupuncture. The points known as Tsubos are like energy wells around your body, some stronger than others and they can all release, relieve and support various ailments, aches and issues that you have going on.
Your body is made up of energy, which we call Ki/Qi (pronounced Chee) and it can get blocked easily and temporarily, or for a longer period of time and be more stubborn to move. If you bang your elbow and go ouch, it maybe sore, sensitive or get hot and inflamed and this is a very visible example of interupting your Ki flow, but with some rubbing and maybe a spot of cooling the pain will ease and your arm will feel normal in next to know time. A condition like a frozen shoulder is more complex. Normally triggered by an initial injury, after weeks of holding your shoulder freezes and becomes difficult to move without extreme pain and the mobility is lost. This a chronic condition and needs warmth plus a lot of TLC to get it moving again; I've had a few of these in my clinic and time is needed to build up the strength, flexibility and trust again.
These are quite visible symptoms that Shiatsu can help with, along with a bad back, muscle tension and joint pains. Your body wants to work, that's its natural state but life intervenes and you'll feel your tension or stress go to certain parts of your body, vulnerable spots and this may happen regularly. Stress is a major factor in the intensity of your peri and menopause symptoms and so it is good to address it with a physical therapy that gets right to the core of what the imbalances are in your body right now.
In any stage of the menopause there are the symptoms that seemed to appear overnight, and you don't know why they started or what the real cause of them is but when you group them together they indicate that you're in early or mid stage of menopause; and you haven't a clue how to resolve them.
Which menopause symptoms is shiatsu really good for?
Firstly shiatsu works on your musculoskeletal system so it's fantastic for easing muscle aches and joint pain. A lot of joint pain stems from tight muscles so relaxing these is a good start. Then you can have inflammation in your joints with trapped heat or indeed pain from trapped cold! It doesn't matter which, shiatsu opens up the joint and in stimulating the energy to move through allows the joint issue to balance out. If you have pain that is stemming from a tendon issue then relaxing the muscles again takes the strain off. With ligament issues it's about supporting the surrounding structure and encouraging healing Ki to the points of weakness.
Anxiety stems from the physical stress that is in your body but it can also manifest as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or any other number of gut health issues. Anxiety goes to where you have a weakness so it could be in your breathing, tight chest or lower back ache; or you may express it as being fearful. The beauty of this treatment is that it's based on the vast knowledge of Chinese medicine, a theory system of how your energy works in your body, how symptoms group to indicate the underlying imbalances; and how to press/support the acu points to rebalance you. It's a completely sympathetic treatment that listens to your body and encourages gentle change, allowing your body the space to come back into a healing state.
The very least is that you'll feel way more relaxed after a treatment and you usually sleep well that night too, plus your body just works better! Your joints will be less achy, your muscles less tight, you'll feel taller, calmer and more flexible. These are the fabulous signs that your energy is moving nicely and you're feeling the benefits. The more shiatsu you have, the longer these benefits last as it's an accumulative process, your body learns to relax quicker, and what it feels like to relax again, and it learns to remain in this relaxed state for longer.
How Shiatsu lowers stress in your body
As I mentioned above Shiatsu triggers the part of your nervous system which is for healing, it does this by releasing tension in your body, calming your mind and allowing you to switch away from continued stress to a state of safety, this allows your cave man brain to think I can chill now!
Tension is who you think you should be.... relaxation is who you are
This healing state is when your body feels safe enough to switch back into the rest and digest mode. Too many of us spend too long in the fight and flight state, one of stress, which us humans are not designed to live like; and this causes a physical stress to build up in your body.
This physical stress affects how your gut, liver, adrenals and brain work for starters, so you'll be experiencing this as night sweats, brain fog, anxiety, gut issues, fatigue, nausea, hot flushes and many more little niggles that you can't put your finger on how to resolve.
The good news is though that if you decide to just tackle one of the major symptoms like brain fog or hot flushes then the more minor side symptoms do clear up to.
In helping you alleviate your symptoms I work on physical stress in 2 ways:
1. Combat the physical stress right now in your body
2. Work to prevent physical stress building up again
I like to differentiate physical stress from heady stress as this is the way you view life and is more to do with your mindset and ways you currently think.
Physical stress sits in your body as inflammation, it kills off your healthy gut bacteria (which in turn lowers your immunity and fogs up your brain), it affects the hormones body skewing them out of balance. If you combat physical stress in your body you can start to feel better in a matter of weeks. I've found the most powerful combination to helping women resolve their symptoms swiftly is shiatsu and nutritional supplements together. and I offer this as part of my Shiatsu for Menopause treatment, available to women in Cheltenham and the surrounding area.
Physical stress in your body comes from your hormone cortisol not having enough nutrients to do it's job so it leeches it from other parts of your body and you end up feeling like you've been hit by a bus. Feed cortisol and it does it's job effectively and dissipates. Get ahead of the cortisol curve and you start to feel loads better, your progesterone levels come back up (as cortisol suppresses progesterone). The symptoms that are caused by an imbalance or excess of oestrogen start to subside (as progesterone is too low); this is the perimenopause. In Peri you still have periods (i.e. oestrogen) but you have a host of menopausal symptoms; however you may not have hot flushes and infact you may feel cold most of the time.
That's how you resolve the physical stress that is in your body right now, but you have to get ahead and start reducing how this physical stress is created. Some of this can be lifestyle choices like the wrong type of exercise, or situations out of your control, like grief. This is where Shiatsu is great because it can help your body overcome the effects of grief or life stress situations; it'll help you cope better and in turn this reduces physical stress.
Heady stress can lead to more physical stress being created in your body and this is ontop of what is already being created by a demanding career, family and life. How you view your life, and how you live your life can trigger heady stress daily, in fact continuously; you need a manual intervention to stop this!
Heady stress is self created and I for one didn't realise this until I learnt it. Yes there are major stressors in your life which you can't escape, we all have those, but they can be supported as I've mentioned; but your own head can get in the way BIG TIME , the way you view things, that needs support too. Mindset coaching, affirmations, meditation, Bach Flower remedies, essential oils, seeing the world through new eyes, or something physical but gently nourishing like Yoga or Qi Gong. All of this can be explored in a shiatsu session. Shiatsu is more than just a treatment it's a way of living, a lifestyle that aims to reduce stress by helping you understand your life and health and deal with it better. The aim is to lower the stress in your life, and in doing so reduce your symptoms.
How Shiatsu makes you feel better
Shiatsu starts by working on you physically, but it also works on slowing down that racing brain you turned up with! For everyone this is individual how this works, an exhausted person may just switch off and crash, if you're more nervous you may have a lot of questions and in which case I'll need to get you to laugh! Switching your physiological state with your breathing, how comfortable you're feeling lying down, getting some tingling along your limbs and warmth in your back, all start to trigger your body to switch into the rest and digest state.
With each treatment your body will learn to relax into this more quickly, helping you in your life learn to switch off more easily at the end of the day; and as insomnia is also a major symptom the treatment will address this too. To enable your body to de-stress you need decent sleep, don't put up with broken sleep and fatigue during the day, or the awful 3pm slumps. This isn't the state your body should be in, menopause or not; I spent years like this. I thought I was handling stress well because my head didn't feel stressed; I didn't have anyone wise around me telling me that I was forcing that stress into my body and it was manifesting as physical symptoms.
Shiatsu makes you feel good, that's the bottom line, as relaxing as a massage but more therapeutic. It makes you feel better for longer, your head feels clearer and calmer, your body less achy. When you add in nutritional supplements for the depletion in energy you're experiencing (this is a major cause of a lot of symptoms) you really do start to feel amazing changes. You can be perimenopausal and symptom free (I am!) and you can have a menopause without hot flushes, in fact that's the aim!
Getting started with Shiatsu for Menopause
If you're local to Gloucestershire then book in for Shiatsu for Menopause this includes supplement advice and supportive Bach Flower Remedies to take away too!
If you'd like to chat about how shiatsu can help you can book in for a free chat here.
About Andrea at Shiatsu Bodyworks Cheltenham
Andrea is a qualified zen shiatsu and chinese medicine practitioner with over 20 years immersed in holistic therapies and the energetics of mind and body. Based in Cheltenham, UK she offers in house clinic and online sessions to help people with midlife health issues and offers online consultations as she is a menopause specialist too.