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Unlocking Strength: Pilates for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, often dubbed the "silent disease," silently weakens bones, making them fragile and more prone to fractures. It's a condition that affects an estimated 200 million people worldwide, particularly as we age. But here's the good news: Pilates can be a powerful tool in managing osteoporosis.

Bone developing honeycomb-like texture characteristic of Osteoporosis

Understanding Osteoporosis

Before diving into the Pilates solution, let's look at what osteoporosis entails. Picture your bones as a bank account – over time, factors like age, genetics, hormonal changes, and lifestyle choices either deposit or withdraw from this account. osteoporosis occurs when withdrawals exceed deposits, leaving bones porous and brittle.

It is possible to live with osteoporosis for years without knowing it, this is why it is called the silent disease. It is most commonly diagnosed when an individual sustains a fracture from an apparently minor incident, often in the hip, spine or wrist. 1 in 3 women over 50 and 1 in 5 men over 50 will sustain a fracture during their lives that could be related to osteoporosis.

Building Better Bones

In childhood our bones are constantly growing and the skeleton becomes denser and stronger. Even after our bones stop growing, they continue to become denser until our mid 20s. This is where our lifestyle factors really become relevant: without bone-building activity our bone density naturally starts to decrease from the age of 35. We need to actively make deposits in our bone density bank account through our lives.

Impact and strength training activities, or weight-bearing through your joints will stimulate bone growth and improve bone density. So if you’re thinking about banking bone density early - running, football, netball, step, aerobics and weight-training activities are all great for improving bone density. Swimming is the prime example of an exercise that doesn’t impact bone density.

Not your cup of tea? Don’t worry, there are low impact ways to increase bone density too, which is also ideal if you already have a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia.

The Prescription: Pilates for Osteoporosis

Enter Pilates – a low-impact, adaptable form of exercise that prioritises strength, flexibility, and alignment. For people with osteoporosis and osteopenia, Pilates offers a holistic approach to bone health, focusing on:

  1. Posture and Alignment: Proper alignment is fundamental in Pilates. By promoting spinal alignment and optimal posture, Pilates helps alleviate strain on vulnerable areas, reducing the risk of fractures.

  2. Core Strength and Balance: A strong core stabilises the spine and improves balance, crucial for preventing falls – a significant concern for those with osteoporosis because of the associated risk of fracturing.

  3. Weight-Bearing Exercises: Many Pilates exercises incorporate weight-bearing elements, which stimulate bone growth and density, including through the wrists.

  4. Flexibility and Mobility: Pilates emphasises controlled, fluid movements particularly of the spine that enhance joint mobility and flexibility. These are often functional movements, which reduce stiffness and discomfort often associated with osteoporosis during daily activities.

  5. Mind-Body Connection: Pilates isn't just physical – it's mental. Mindful movement encourages awareness of body mechanics and breathing, fostering confidence and reducing anxiety often linked with osteoporosis.

Feel Empowered and Build Better Bones

Sometimes a diagnosis of osteoporosis can create fear of movement, but living with osteoporosis doesn't mean resigning to fragility. The strongest recommendation for osteoporosis now is to move and keep moving; with the right approach you can maintain strength and mobility.

So, whether you're newly diagnosed or have been living with the condition for many years, consider incorporating Pilates into your osteoporosis management plan – it could be the key to unlocking a healthier, more resilient you.

Using pilates for osteoporosis - a lady practicing balance

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