Osteoporsis - Building Stronger Bones with Pilates

If you have Osteoporosis "Be positive about what you CAN do rather than what you can't do!"

Definition: Osteoporosis is a medical condition where bones become brittle and fragile. It is sometimes known as 'the silent disease' as often you don't know you've got it unless you fratcure a bone even with a minor bump or fall. Loss of bone tissue can affect your posture leading to the muscles feeling achey.

There are plenty of Pilates exercises that someone with Osteoporosis can do e.g. Table Top, Plank, Arm Weights. Focus on those rather than getting annoyed with what you musn't do.

Pilates strengthens bones but helps improve general stamina, posture and balance thereby reducing the risk of falls and fractures. Bones are constantly being replaced and the quality of bone is influenced by posture and how we use our bodies in everyday activities.

Pilates for Osteoporosis focuses on higher intensity and less repetitions. Weight bearing exercises are ideal. The bones need to be challenged for a short while then move onto another exercise.

Understanding Osteoporosis:

The outer layer of a bone (cortical bone), is most affected by diet. Cortical bone provides strength and makes up 80% of our bone.
The inner layer (cancellous bone), is most affected by hormones. This is a spongy, honeycomb mesh allowing the bone to be somewhat lighter. With Osteoporosis some of the mesh becomes thin making the bone more fragile.

Children's bones have a high rate of bone turnover and bone increases in both density and strength. It is very important to encourage children and teenagers to be active and do weight bearing activities in order to build up strong bones for the future.

Teenagers: Bones stop growing in length roughly between the ages of 16-18. However bone mass continues to slowly increase into the mid-twenties. Dieting in teenagers can result in osteoporotic problems in later life. The sooner we start building up good bone mass the better.

Mid 20s - early 30s: The balance between bone breakdown and new bone formation stays relatively stable in this age group.

Middle Age: (Approx 40-50yrs onwards) Bone loss begins and there is quite a fall in bone density in the first few years following menopause and then the loss tends to stabilise and become more gradual. Men's testosterone levels decrease from approx 65yrs so men can also get weaker bones later in life.

The degree of Osteoporosis depends on:
a) how much bone we had to start with
b) how much bone mass we lose
Here are some additional factors that also contribute to Osteoporosis: Low calcium (an excessively high protein diet, such as the Atkins diet, encourages the body to excrete calcium); high caffeine intake; smoking; sedentary life-style; heavy drinking; depression; prolonged steroid use; some metabolic disorders.

Videos specifically for preventing and helping with Osteoporosis are found on the Remedial Pilates page.

Last update: March 01, 2016