Exercise with bone loss is my area of focus as an ACSM certified personal trainer because many of my class participants and clients have osteoporosis or low bone density, commonly called osteopenia. As one of the four volunteer moderators on the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s online Support Community, I comment on questions regarding safer ways to exercise. If you’d like to join the NOF community, click here. You don’t need to become a member to read the posts, but if you’d like to ask a question or start a new discussion, you’ll need to become a member. It’s easy and quick; if you have questions about navigating the NOF site, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I began a new discussion today entitled, Exercise Questions? Ask Susie Hathaway, as a way to group comments that I’ve posted in many threads. In it, I’ve included links to excellent resources for exercising with osteoporosis.
For those of you who aren’t on the NOF community, here is the introduction, with the links, to that discussion:
Newly Diagnosed with Osteoporosis?
When starting an exercise program, it’s always advised to consult with your healthcare provider. Ask her or him for a referral to a physical therapist (PT) knowledgeable about bone loss. The PT can give one-on-one feedback specific to your needs. Even one appointment can make all the difference in helping you get going safely with an individualized exercise program to help your bones, as well as ensure that you’re moving safely during your daily activities. Also, ask how much weight is safe for you to lift.
Weight-Bearing and Muscle-Strengthening Exercise
Done consistently, weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises give your bones a reason to stay strong. Many types of exercise programs have weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening moves, but it’s so important to do those moves with proper form to protect the spine and avoid falls. It can often be a fine line as to what will help your bones and what will hurt them. By the way, all of the exercises in my 2 DVDs, Safe Strength Training for Osteoporosis Prevention and Resistance Band Training for Osteoporosis Prevention, are done with particular care in keeping a neutral spine with no forward bending or twisting to the point of strain.
Resources for Moving Safely and Exercising with Bone Loss
Below are articles and webinars which I often suggest to give you a better idea on what moves to avoid and how to adapt exercises or substitute safer ones. Have a look at them and if you still have a question, ask it in the comments section below. I’ll get back with you as soon as I can, between classes or in the evening.
The “Proper Body Alignment” NOF article is a good place to start.
Please read the whole thing, but here’s an important excerpt:
“To keep proper alignment, avoid the following positions or movements:
• Having a slumped, head-forward posture
• Bending forward from the waist
• Twisting of the spine to a point of strain
• Twisting the trunk and bending forward when doing activities such as coughing, sneezing, vacuuming or lifting
• Anything that requires you to reach far. An example is reaching up for an item on a high shelf, which also could cause you to lose your balance and fall.
• Some exercises can do more harm than good. If you have osteoporosis or have had broken bones in the spine, you should avoid exercises that involve bending over from the waist.”
The “Moving Safely” section of the NOF website has numerous helpful articles.
“Do It Right! And Prevent Fractures!” – Award winning online brochure from American Bone Health, authored by Sherri Betz, PT
“Too Fit to Fracture”: A Consensus to Establish Recommendations on Exercise and Physical Activity for Individuals with Osteoporosis, with or without Spine Fractures” Excellent guidelines from Osteoporosis Canada.
“Safe Pilates and Yoga for Bone Health” – Even if you don’t do yoga or Pilates, you’ll learn safer ways of moving from this free webinar from the National Osteoporosis Foundation, featuring Sherri Betz, PT, and Matthew Taylor, PT, PhD.
I hope that all of the above information will help you move safely with bone loss.