What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones lose their strength and break more easily, sometimes following a minor bump or fall. These broken bones are most common in the wrists, hips and spine and are often referred to as ‘fragility fractures’. The word fracture and broken bone mean the same thing. Osteoporosis itself isn’t painful, but the broken bones it causes can lead to the pain associated with the condition. Spinal fractures can also cause loss of height and curvature of the spine.
Living with osteoporosis means that you are at higher risk of breaking a bone, but it is not inevitable. Exercise can help your bones stay stronger and improving your balance can reduce your risk of falling which is a major cause of fractures.
Choosing exercise and movements that work for you
There are three ways that exercise and safe movement help with bone health and osteoporosis.
If you’re fit and well, you may want to look at how you can use exercise to strengthen your bones. Your priority is likely to be different if you have back pain with spinal fractures, meaning you may be looking for information on caring for your back right now. Alternatively, you may need to start with some balance exercises to make you more steady, before you increase your physical activity further.
Why is exercise important?
There are many benefits to exercise and keeping physically active:
- It helps to strengthen your muscle and bone, leading to fewer broken bones
- It improves your balance so that you are less likely to slip, trip or fall
- It helps to reduce your risk and symptoms of other medical conditions
- It helps you to continue to do everyday activities and live independently when you are older
- It improves your brain function, makes you happier and builds your confidence
Pilates for Osteoporosis
Pilates is beneficial for helping to maintain bone strength, improving muscle strength and balance, as well as helping with pain and posture. But there are some exercises where you may ‘over flex’ your spine if you push yourself to the limits.
This is especially true with uncontrolled, repetitive or sudden forward movements or if you are putting some load or strain on your spine in a curved position. This could put uneven pressure on the front parts of your spine which may increase your risk of a spinal fracture.
Generally, Pilates is very safe and isn’t going to cause a spinal fracture. However, to be on the safe side, using alternative moves that keep your back straight or allow you to bend in a controlled and comfortable way will help to reduce the risk of injuring your back. Please ask your physiotherapist whether you might require the following modifications.
Pilates Modifications for Osteoporosis
For any further advice please do not hesitate to enquire at the clinic or read further on advice from The Royal Osteoporosis Society. https://theros.org.uk/information-and-support/living-with-osteoporosis/exercise-and-physical-activity-with-osteoporosis/caring-for-your-back/pilates-with-osteoporosis/