Modifying Pilates For Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Dos and Don’ts

Maintenance of bone density is accomplished by long term routine loading on our bones, which will revert to pre-training density when exercise is discontinued. To best maintain what you have and avoid more loss, follow these rules:

DO weight bearing exercise on your feet every day. The other day an osteoporotic client in the studio asked why she should not continue doing the plow in yoga, since being in that extreme flexion was certainly bearing weight on her spine. Weight bearing in our case means standing on your feet! Rolling on your back not only doesn’t cut it, but can actually cause vertebral fractures. Just say NO!

DO work on your balance in standing as often as possible. The less you fall the less your risk of wrist or hip fracture. Standing yoga postures and PhysicalMind Institute’s Standing Pilates® can be very helpful here.

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

DO focus on spine and torso extension. As our bodies give in to gravity we begin to round forward. It is crucial that we work constantly to stay upright with a gentle squeeze of the shoulder blades and a lovely lift of the breastbone.

DO be careful sneezing and coughing. Many fractures happen during 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 round forward while getting in and out of bed. And never roll around on your spine! Yes, spinal flexion is healthy for healthy bones. It is completely contraindicated for low bone density. As you can see in the fracture image, the micro fractures occur in the front 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 I don’t!

DO NOT roll around on your spine. I know, I’m saying it again, but this is so important! And I am scared to tell you how many clients with osteoporosis I have seen who have been given extreme flexion exercises by certified Pilates teachers in studios.

DO NOT forcefully twist your spine. Be nice to your spine. Forceful torsion will hurt.

DO NOT do sit ups or crunches! Remember the flexion discussion above? A good Pilates teacher can show you many abdominal strengthening alternatives.

DO NOT take your leg far out to the side of your body (abduction). This where many a hip fracture has occurred.