Pilates Modification for Osteoporosis

Dos and Don’ts of Osteoporosis

Maintenance of bone density is achieved through long-term routine loading on our bones, which will return to pre-training density when exercise is discontinued. To better keep what you have and avoid further loss, follow these rules:

DO exercise with foot weights every day. The other day an osteoporotic client in the studio asked her why she shouldn’t keep doing the plow in yoga, since being in that extreme flexion was definitely putting weight on her spine. Bearing weight in our case means standing! Rolling onto your back not only doesn’t cut your back, it can actually cause spinal fractures. Just say no!

DO work on your balance by standing as often as possible. The less you fall, the lower your risk of wrist or hip fracture. Standing yoga poses and Standing Pilates® from the PhysicalMind Institute can be very helpful here.

DO resistance, cardio, and flexibility training within safe guidelines.

Focus on extension of the spine and torso. As our bodies give in to gravity, we begin to rotate forward. It is crucial that we constantly work to stay upright with a gentle squeeze of the shoulder blades and a beautiful lift of the sternum.

Be careful when sneezing and coughing. Many fractures occur from forceful coughing and sneezing. Try to stand or sit with your back against something for support.

DO NOT flex your spine forward. Don’t bend over to tie your shoes or pick something up off the floor. Don’t lean forward when getting in and out of bed. And never roll on your spine! Yes, flexing the spine is healthy for healthy bones. It is completely contraindicated for low bone density. As you can see in the fracture image, microfractures occur in the anterior part of the spine and are irreversible. Do you want to look like a round ball all the time for the rest of your life? I know not!

DO NOT roll onto your spine. I know, I say it again, but this is very important! And I’m afraid to tell you how many clients with osteoporosis I’ve seen who have been given extreme push-up exercises by certified Pilates teachers in studios.

DO NOT forcefully twist your spine. Be kind to your spine. The forceful twist will hurt.

DO NOT do sit-ups or sit-ups! Remember the previous discussion about bending? A good Pilates teacher can show you many abdominal strengthening alternatives.

DO NOT bring your leg out to the side of your body (abduction). Many hip fractures have occurred here.

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