New Moves Coaching Program

No Pain No Gain - Menopause Edition

exercise perimenopause symptoms Mar 11, 2024
menopause pain

I’ve always hated the saying “No Pain, No Gain” because it just never made sense to me. As someone who has dealt with their fair share of aches and pains, I would now revise that saying to “always pain, different gains.”  

Let's face it: exercising with menopause symptoms can sometimes feel like attempting to tame a wild beast while riding a unicycle. Add non-menopause-related challenges to that picture, and now your unicycle suddenly has a flat tire on top of that. One of the many menopause symptoms is muscle and joint pains, increases in inflammation, increased risk for frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis, and many more musculoskeletal issues that can cause a fair amount of chronic pain. These “new” challenges don’t happen in a vacuum, meaning that these often are added to already existing issues and pains you had before menopause, such as injuries, structural changes from surgeries, and osteoporosis, just to name a few. These are everyday experiences for a lot of people going through menopause. Chronic pain is a big reason why many people don’t move and exercise, but that can turn into a snowball that ends up as an avalanche. We have to figure out how to move in the body we have now, and that can be very challenging, both physically and mentally (for me, the mental part has been the hardest part). Over my life span, I have incurred many injuries, which are a compilation of military service, childbirth, and being a lifelong lover of exercise and outdoor fun. These have led to dislocations in both shoulders, a labral tear in my hip, herniations in my neck, hand surgery, and compressed disks in my lower back. Then menopause hit, and I started to feel pain in my feet and my hands and overall tightness and achiness that I hadn’t experienced before. As someone who has battled through injuries and menopause symptoms myself, I have had many days where the pain in my body was so much that I couldn’t imagine doing any type of exercise. But when those days became the norm rather than the exception, I had to make a choice to give up completely or to figure out how to continue on a path that included regular movement and exercise while also navigating my pain. That’s why I'm here to share some strategies and a sprinkle of humor to help you overcome the urge to give up on movement and exercise.

Get Creative with Your Exercises

The things you used to love may no longer be something your body loves, so rather than forever mourning the loss of it or, even worse, keep ignoring the signals your body sends you, play around with exercises, and find what feels good. I’ll give you an example from my own experience. The labral tear I have in my right hip does not like lunges. You may say, “No one likes lunges” and you may be right, but they are fantastic leg exercises, and I used to love them. For the longest time, I just ignored the pain that inevitably came after a workout with lunges, then I tried to take them out, but they somehow still crept back in after a few months. In my mind, I would say, “I’m sure I can do them now.” It’s probably ok now, but it wasn’t, and it will never be. So, long story short, my lunges are gone, and instead, I do exercises that don’t go through that level of range anymore. It doesn’t make my labral tear go away, but it does make me not have to take a week off from moving because my hip hurts so much I can’t move. The same counts for very high-impact exercises such as box jumps. My herniation issues do not appreciate a high level of impact, but it can tolerate a softer level, such as jumping jacks, skaters, and low-level step crossovers. I had to learn to tame the impact but it works. So get creative, explore different activities, and find what works for you. You can do it, and if you have challenges with particular exercises and don’t know how to replace them, email me. I’m pretty sure I can help you come up with some options. This is the most important strategy and, in my opinion, the only way to keep movement in your life in a sustainable and positive way. 

Listen to Your Body (No, Seriously)

Ah, the elusive art of listening to our bodies. It's something many of us have neglected in the past, myself included. But trust me when I say that tuning in to what your body is telling you is crucial, especially during menopause. If something doesn't feel right, don't push through the pain. Modify your workouts, take breaks when needed, and give yourself permission to rest. Remember, it's not about pushing through the pain; it's about working with your body, not against it.

Embrace the (maybe slower) Steady Approach

Remember when you could leap tall buildings in a single bound? Okay, maybe not, but you get the point. Menopause might have slowed us down a bit, but it doesn't mean we have to come to a screeching halt. The key to an active lifestyle is to keep moving. Don’t worry so much about the specifics of the movement but the fact that it is part of your life. Consistency over intensity! It will win every time. 

Prioritize Mobility and Flexibility

Mobility and flexibility are two words that often get pushed to the back burner in favor of more "intense" workouts. I have always been Team Intensity, but I have learned that mobility and flexibility are the secret sauce to navigating menopause. Incorporating mobility exercises into your routine can help alleviate joint pain and improve your overall workout experience and recovery. I now make it my “entry fee” to my workouts. I have to pay the mobility fee before I get to do the stuff I love more (intensity and strength). If you need some help with a routine, check out this video from my YouTube channel. Give it a try. Your body will thank you, trust me.


So there you have it, my fellow menopausers, a candid guide to navigating the hurdles of pain and exercise during this challenging time in our lives. Remember, it's not about pushing through the pain or completely stopping; it's about finding what works for you and embracing movement in whatever form that may be. Just don’t stop! 

Email me at [email protected] if you need help finding alternatives for you. I'm happy to help.