Osteoporosis is a condition which affects bones causing them to become fragile and brittle. The word osteoporosis literally translating from “osteo” meaning “bone” and the Greek word “poros” meaning “porous”. Osteoporosis affects over three million people in the UK and women are more at risk of developing osteoporosis than men.
From around the age of 35 onward bone material begins to decrease in strength and density. If you have a large decrease in bone density this is known as osteoporosis. When you have this condition you are more likely to suffer from breaks or fractures of the bones.
When diagnosed with osteoporosis, individuals are usually recommended exercises which involve an element of weight bearing. This includes day-to-day activities such as walking. Pilates is also highly recommended. Weight bearing exercises help to improve bone density by increasing the force placed through the bones which enables them to grow stronger and denser.
Pilates is a great form of exercise to help to improve bone density, especially in exercises where the body works in opposition to gravitational pull which acts on the body (e.g. in an exercise like femur arcs). Pilates also helps to strengthen muscles which support bone structures and joints and this in turn can help to prevent fractures.
It is important to note that not all Pilates exercises are recommended for those with osteoporosis and if you are planning on attending a Pilates class, make sure you tell your teacher about your health history. If you have osteoporosis it is contraindicated to perform exercises which involve full range rotation and side bending or forwards flexion as this can increase the risk of fractures within the spine.
A great exercise for those with osteoporosis is called quadruped. Benefits of quadruped include: weight bearing, strengthening of musculature, coordination and balance.
To perform quadruped bring yourself to a strong hands and knees position where your hands are in line with your shoulders and your knees are in line with your hips.
Version 1: Slide one foot along the floor away from the body whilst still keeping both hands and the opposite knee in contact with the floor. Keep the hips level.
Version 2: Lift the leg as you lengthen it away from the body.
Version 3: As you straighten and lengthen through one leg, reach the opposite arm away from you at shoulder height in line with the head.