What is Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease where bones deteriorate and become more easily breakable. Normal, healthy bones are in a constant flux of being broken down and rebuilt. The ratio of bone breakdown to bone formation creates a resilient structural support system for muscles, fascia and organs. People with osteoporosis usually have impaired new bone formation, which means that bone is being resorbed faster than it is being rebuilt.
What to do if you are at risk
Post-menopausal women with a small frame and a family history are most likely to have Osteoporosis. Other risk factors include thyroid dysfunction, history of cancer or use of steroid medications. (Mayo clinic) The good news is that you can impact your bone health with what you eat and how you exercise. The stress of moving against gravity causes new bone development. You can make a few changes to your activity level to positively impact your bone mass.
Walk for bone health
Walking helps prevent bone thinning, Research shows that women who walk a mile a day have 4-7 years more bone in reserve than women who do not walk a mile per day.1 Walking requires no special equipment and is an easy way to socialize with friends and soak in vitamin D, a vitamin important for bone resorption. If a mile seems too challenging at first, try walking for 10 minutes at a time.
Posture for bone health
Postural exercise is important because osteoporosis affects the spine and can cause people to orient in a flexed forward position. This places excess strain on the neck and shoulders and can interfere with appropriate balance reactions. Many people associate posture with holding your body upright in a static position. In fact, posture is a dynamic relationship of feeling your body’s motion and responding appropriately. The physical therapists at CCPT can help you to address your alignment in a sustainable way.
Grab a theraband
One way to strengthen important postural muscles is to use theraband resistance to draw your shoulder blades together. Attach your theraband to a doorknob or other stable object. Grasp the ends of your band with your thumbs up. Gently engage your shoulder blade muscles as your bring your arms towards your back. Gently release the band. Perform 10 repetitions. If you feel ready for increased challenge, you can progress the number of sets of your exercise or the resistance of the band.
Get your balance
When you have brittle bones, movement can be scary because it’s easier to break a bone if you fall. This creates a cycle where decreased movement results in decreased bone density, and decreased bone density makes fracturing easier. The PTs at CCPT can help you to determine which systems have balance challenges and help you safely work on your areas of weakness. You may be advised to start practicing therapeutic yoga or Feldenkrais classes to improve your bone mass and challenge your balance.
Get onto a Yoga Mat
Cobra pose is a great way to build bone densityin your upper back, rib cage and arms. Lie on your belly with your arms at your chest. Gently press your pubic bones into the mat, lift your knee caps off of the floor. Gently push through your hands to lift your chest. Soften your heart forward and take a deep breath. Slowly lower yourself down with control.
Safely and effectively increasing your exercise and activity level can support bone formation and improve your prognosis. The physical therapists at CCPT can help you to develop an appropriate rehabilitation program to safely maximize your bone density.
- Sueki D and Brechter J. Orthopedic Rehabilitation Clinical Advisor. Missouri: Mosby Elsevier; 2010.