We all love a foot rub – whether it's a proper reflexology session, or a touching gesture from a partner, having your feet rubbed is always a relaxing experience. Researchers have looked extensively into the therapeutic benefits of reflexology and massage in general, with a 2020 study showing that reflexology helped improve sleep quality and several studies into the effect of massage on chronic pain. These trials found that massage can have a significant positive effect on chronic pain levels and that foot massage especially is beneficial in tackling sleep problems.
A new study built on the existing knowledge was published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. The results of this (admittedly small scale) study showed that regular foot massage extends the duration of sleep by an hour a day. Sleep is less disrupted, so less time is spent awake tossing and turning, and our bodies can maximise the REM sleep that is so important for our health.
Although the study focused on just 77 post-menopausal women in northern Turkey, the results were so significant they warranted publication. The impact on sleep duration (and therefore quality) also positively impacted stress and fatigue levels – when we're well rested we are much better able to cope with stress, and our energy levels are higher thanks to the rejuvenating effect of sleep.
Obviously, the small sample size of the study means that more research and larger studies need to be done to confirm the findings in other populations, including perimenopausal and menopausal women (as well as postmenopausal women, as the Turkish study focused on). However, we think that given the existing knowledge of the therapeutic and stress-busting effects of massage, everything points to this being a really effective additional treatment for poor sleep, stress and fatigue, all of which are serious problems for women going through the change.
There are few downsides to massage, and the ones that do exist are usually the result of a deep tissue or intensive sports massage. Lingering pain, muscle aches and even fatigue can occur after an intense massage but these are temporary side effects, and shouldn't arise from a simple foot massage.
If you're struggling with poor sleep and fatigue then foot massage or reflexology is definitely worth a try. Who wouldn't want an extra hour of sleep a day? You can book a session with a reflexologist who could also address any other symptoms you may experience, or you can ask your partner for a foot rub a few evenings a week. If you're flying solo, you can massage your own feet in the evenings, using some moisturising cream to help hydrate cracked, hard skin, or invest in a foot massage machine.
Menopause is something that affects virtually every aspect of your life leading up to, during and after the change, so it makes sense that we tackle the problematic symptoms using a range of tools and interventions. HRT is the go-to medical treatment for many women, while supplements like the MenoShake do a lot of holistic heavy lifting to keep each system of the body functioning at maximum efficiency. Complementary therapies like massage, aromatherapy and even acupuncture can help too, with no worry about interactions with drugs or supplements you may be taking. We think foot rubs are a great addition to the menopause tackling toolkit.