Building Bone – the foundations
Osteoporosis is a common disease in Australia. Osteoporosis affects over one million Australians, and is more common among women than men. It is a condition where the bones become weak, fragile and brittle. When bones lose minerals (such as calcium) faster than the body can replace them, this leads to a loss of bone density, which in turn, leads to an increased risk of fractures. Even a small bump or fall can cause a fracture. The most common sites for these fractures are the wrist, hip and spine (Osteoporosis Australia, 2014). Bone building exercise for osteoporosis is essential for optimising bone health.
Osteoporosis is likely under-reported, as many people typically have no symptoms at all until they experience a bone fracture, usually after a fall. Osteoporosis can be diagnosed with a simple and painless scan, known as a bone density test.
WHO is most at risk?
Factors that increase risk of developing Osteoporosis are:
(Osteoporosis Australia, 2014)
- Your gender, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men
- Increasing age. The older you get, the higher the risk
- Race – you are at greater risk of osteoporosis if you’re of Caucasion or Asian descent
- Peri and post-menopausal women, due to the rapid decline in oestrogen levels during menopause
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Medical history
- Prolonged corticosteroid use
- Thyroid conditions
- Coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disorder, due to malabsorption
- Eating disorders, severely restricted food intake and being underweight can weaken bone
- Some medications for breast/prostate cancer, epilepsy and some antidepressants
- Lifestyle factors
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Dietary factors
- Little or no physical activity
- Weight – both ends of the spectrum (thin body build or excessive weight)
WHAT can we do about it?
There are several interventions for osteoporosis management and prevention (outlined below).
We will focus mainly on bone building exercise for osteoporosis and the three important Bs – body, bones and balance.
Body, BONES & Balance – WHY exercise is important for bone density
Exercise is vital for both the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Regular, ongoing, physical activity and exercise has been shown to help maintain and improve bone mineral density (Osteoporosis Australia, 2014) (Sözen, T et al., 2017).
Bone is living tissue and this means it responds to exercise by getting stronger, as muscles do (NIH, 2019). Even when we are young, the exercise we do contributes to peak bone mass and therefore the more active we are, the higher the peak bone mass (NIH, 2019), (Sözen, T et al., 2017). Sometime during our 30s, this bone mass peaks and then we can begin to lose bone (NIH, 2019). Regular weightbearing exercise can help build your bone stock in your youth and prevent bone loss and maintain muscle strength and balance throughout your life. Exercise is especially important for someone diagnosed with osteoporosis.
There are specific exercises that are better bone building exercise for osteoporosis . These are called osteogenic exercises. These exercises help to improve bone strength due to a certain amount of impact or strain placed on them. Generally these exercises include resistance based or weight bearing exercises – exercises where your feet are on the ground and gravity is adding to the load through your bones. Swimming for example, would not be the best choice as an exercise to improve bone density, as there is very little gravitation loading or weight placed on your bones. Your bones react to the weight on them by building themselves up and getting stronger. Exercise examples include, but are not limited to, weighted squats and lunges, jumping, landing and stamping (Montgomery, G., et al., 2019). Impact loading can be tailored to the individual and gradually progressed from simple, safe landing techniques, to more challenging tasks once good skill and confidence in early tasks has been achieved.
It’s never too late to start a bone-building exercise program, even if you already have osteoporosis. You may worry that a bone building program may cause or aggravate a problem you may have, like back or knee pain. A professionally designed exercise program, customised to your individual circumstances, will allow you to strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your balance and coordination while minimising risks of aggravating pre-existing pain or injuries. In most cases, a customised program will have the added benefit of assisting you with these additional musculoskeletal problems.
So, no time like the present! Time to move that body and build those bones!
|PhysioTec provides a unique and specialised group program based on the most current research available. It is designed to increase bone health and density through weight training. Our program incorporates posture and body awareness training along with balance and proprioceptive exercise aimed at reducing the risk of falls, joint overload and injury. Body – Bones – Balance (Body integration – Bone strength – Balance control) incorporates a group warm up followed by a targeted station-based exercise program that stimulates the whole body, with a special focus on improving health and strength of bones, muscles and tendons and optimising dynamic balance. Before entry into the program, you will have a detailed assessment with a physiotherapist who will individualise your starting program.
Read more information about our class here.
Montgomery, G., et al. (2019). The mechanical loading and muscle activation of four common exercises used in osteoporosis prevention for early postmenopausal women. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 44, 124-131.