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Exercise with Osteoporosis

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Exercise has been shown to improve bone health, improve muscle strength, and decrease fall rates. It is safe to say that prevention is the best defense for disease; however, there are multiple things you can do if you have already been diagnosed with Osteoporosis. When it comes to your bone health, exercising in your early teens through early adulthood is the best defense—bone density peaks in your 20's. After age 30, you start to lose bone mass, and the process speeds up after menopause. Multiple lifestyle factors are involved in preserving and producing bone tissue. An eating plan including rich green and leafy veggies, minimal caffeine, alcohol, and dairy, and decreased emotional and mental stress, to name a few. Avoid smoking, or quit if you currently smoke. An active lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your bones! So, where do we start? What are the risk and modifications needed for a safe workout?

A starting point:

Muscle strength is essential for both building bones, fall resistance, and improved daily function. The push and pull force of the tendons and muscles on the bone stimulates new bone growth. You can achieve enhanced muscle strength in multiple ways:

  • Dumbbells

  • Bodyweight Exercise

  • Resistance bands

Specific forms of exercise, including spinal extension (backbends), appear to be a more effective and safer choice for those diagnosed with Osteoporosis. I will say that it can be counterproductive for those who have arthritis of the spine. Working with spinal extension can improve your posture and decrease the forward hump (kyphosis) often developed in people with Osteoporosis. Yoga is a great way to include all of the elements needed for a well-rounded workout. Yoga can improve your posture, improve your core strength, stimulate bone tissue growth, and improve your balance. But that is not all; the mind-body connection of breathwork and movement can decrease your stress, improve your outlook on life, reduce anxiety, and improve your awareness of your body. The combination of these factors can help not just your Osteoporosis diagnosis. It will also improve your relationships and your outlook on living with a diagnosis! Before we get started, there are a few modifications we need to make to reduce your risk factors.

Risk Factors:

Exercising with Osteoporosis is excellent for your bone health, but it does not come without risk. A spinal fracture is prevalent in those with Osteoporosis, so modifications will need to be made.

No forward bending. We tend to compensate for decreased ROM and strength by bending forward and rounding your back at the mid-spine. This sets the stage for increased spinal fracture risk. It is essential to flex at the hips, not the waist. This will minimize your risk of fracture. This is not easy to do, so bring a lot of awareness to your form when exercising. Hinge at the hips while keeping your full spine in a straight position. Lift your chest and tuck your chin. If done right, you should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings. This modification is crucial for the safety and effectiveness of your poses. An easy way to modify this is by using a chair to place your hands instead of the floor.

No major rotation. This modification holds the same reasoning as the "no bending forward." Deep spinal rotations will increase the risk of a spinal fracture. Rotation is OK; just be sure you listen to your body and not push into the twist. Warm your body up and rotate with gentle ease, not force.

Balance safety. A fall can set you up for long term recovery. When doing yoga or exercise, in general, please be safe. It only takes one fall to change your life forever. Great ways to promote fall resistance is to work on it! Yoga is a great way to build the core strength you need to reduce fall risk. You can modify exercises by doing them against a wall. The wall can catch your fall. Or by holding on to a chair or a solid surface. Remember, the chair can slide, so be sure it is in a stable place.

Now that we have reviewed some important safety tips, here is a yoga video modified for your bone health and safety. To access more yoga videos FREE for your bone health, you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel.



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