We know that exercise is one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to help make bones as strong as possible and optimise balance to reduce the risk of fractures. However …. not all exercise is good exercise.
There are several routine gym, yoga and Pilates exercises that are considered unsafe for those with osteoporosis and osteopaenia, particularly if you have already suffered a spinal compression fracture. (This can be seen on a spine X-ray).
Fractures in the spinal vertebrae are less likely to be due to a fall, and are more likely related to repetitively loading the spine in a flexed position. It is possible to cause ‘micro trauma’ fractures in the vertebrae without experiencing significant back pain. Understanding the importance of good posture and correct lifting techniques to help prevent spinal compression fractures whilst exercising (and also in everyday life) is a vital component of injury prevention.
Stop Doing these Exercises Now
Avoiding exercises which load the spine in a flexed position is important if you have spine osteopaenia or osteoporosis. (www.osteoporosis.org.au). Some examples of common exercises to avoid are ‘crunch’ sit ups, ‘sit and reach’, roll ups from lying and rollovers.
In everyday life, lifting with your spine in a forward bent position (e.g. groceries, grandchildren, or pulling obstinate weeds in the garden), can also place significant pressure on your vertebrae. So when reaching forwards to pick up any weight, bend at the hips and knees keeping the back straight, after you have first assessed that you are strong enough to lift the weight without over-straining.
Spinal twists can damage vertebrae/ribs that have been weakened by osteoporosis, so care should be taken with loaded spinal twists (e.g. twisting with a medicine ball in the gym). It is important to keep mobile, but avoid extremes of spine rotation with loads.
Start Doing These Exercises Now
(after checking with your health professional or vivabodystrength.com.au)
Spinal extension exercises on the other hand can safely build spinal bone and muscle strength and have been shown to reduce the likelihood of spinal fractures (Sinaki et al 2002).
Exercises to build bone and muscle strength, balance and flexibility have been proven to help people with osteoporosis avoid injury. Impact weight-bearing exercises and resistance training are particularly useful for people with low bone density and can be simply integrated into your daily routine. We all easily incorporate a few minutes a day brushing our teeth to maintain good dental health, so develop that same habit and attitude to maintaining good bone health!