Have you had to deal with hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and musculoskeletal pain at the same time? These are some of the many symptoms affecting women during menopause. Together, they tend to negatively impact the social, psychological, and sexual lives of women. There are also physical consequences of menopause, like increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Though there is no getting around this stage of life, there are ways to help with the transition. Traditional physical exercise and other mind-body techniques have recently entered the spotlight, with one study showing Rusie Dutton, a traditional Thai exercise, as an effective tool for women with menopause.
What is Rusie Dutton?
Rusie Dutton is a traditional exercise that originated in Thailand about 200 years ago and is characterized by slow, purposeful movements that emphasize stretching and twisting the body in ways that exert force in underutilized muscle groups. Numerous studies have been published showing how Rusie Dutton improves flexibility and cardiorespiratory function as well as stress and muscle pain reduction in users. The exercise has also recently been shown to benefit menopausal women, offering an alternative route to reduce some of the symptoms associated with menopause.
How does it work?
Each Rusie Dutton class took place from 7.30 to 9.00 a.m. in a community center, with the first 40 min spent on a question-and- answer period about home practice and health problems followed by deep breathing exercises. The next 50 min were spent doing muscle stretching (5 min), practice of the postures of Rusie Dutton (40 min) and deep breathing and stretching (5 min). The practice session started with easy postures followed by more difficult ones until all 16 postures were covered. Participants were encouraged to extend, stretch or twist the limbs and body part as much as they could but not to the point of pain.
The results? According to the study, Rusie Dutton participants at the end of the observational period were found to have decreased body weight, body mass index, resting heart rate and blood pressure, increased muscle and joint flexibility, improved cardiorespiratory fitness, and improvement in quality of life with fewer menopause symptoms consisting of vasomotor, physical, psychosocial, and sexual symptoms.
The participants were also found to have benefited from elements found in other mind-body exercises, thanks to Rusie Dutton’s gentle movements, controlled breathing, and meditation—offering relief from anxiety, depression, and insomnia. A final highlight from the study about Rusie Dutton was its ease of practice, “[Rusie Dutton] is not limited to a particular population because all practitioners can find postures appropriate for themselves, it can be done in sitting position and takes less than 10 min to practice so can be done at work to release muscle stress and fight fatigue.”
Assisting those unable to assist themselves
Unfortunately, menopause and its symptoms can last longer than a decade, affecting women well advanced in years. For these women, and those who are recovering from an injury, even a 10-minute session of physical activity can be challenging. A solution adopted by Chaan Thai and other traditional Thai massage centers has been to incorporate Rusie Dutton techniques into the massage therapy itself—combining the benefits of multiple techniques.
Rather than do all the movements themselves, the participant is encouraged to instead focus on their breathing and meditation technique while the massage therapist performs the Rusie Dutton movements for them. This form of exercise is especially beneficial for those recovering from an injury or those with little flexibility and strength to do the movements themselves. The approach combines the practical benefits of a physical therapy session with all the rest and relaxation benefits of a massage and mind-body therapy session.