Osteoporosis: Is Your Thigh Bone Like The Eiffel Tower?

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthMay, is Osteoporosis Awareness Month.I first became interested in bones as a young dancer (about 200,000 years ago, in the Mid Paleolithic era). I was studying body alignment and I became fascinated with the skeleton and the remarkable living tissue that makes up our bones. I was intrigued by the intricate architectural structure of bone.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthThere’s the smooth, hard shell we see on the outside called cortical bone, and the amazing crisscrossed, honeycomb like structure on the inside called trabecular bone. The combination of cortical and trabecular bone make our skeletons, strong, light, flexible and efficient.

The structure of trabecular bone is the secret ingredient. The trabecular bracing structure is located at precisely the correct angles to absorb the maximum force.

So when you jump over a puddle or run for a bus, it’s the trabecular bracing that directs the force to the strongest part of your skeleton and prevents a bone from breaking.

Most of us aren’t aware of our beautiful bone structure. But, it hasn’t gone unnoticed or unutilized.

The structure of trabecular bone was copied by the French bridge builder Gustave Eiffel, who wanted to build the tallest man-made structure in the world. When he built the Eiffel tower in 1889, he calculated the positioning of the braces in the curves of the legs to direct any force like high winds on the entire structure to the strongest area; the four legs. This is why the Eiffel tower continues to stand the test of time.

That’s fine for an iron tower. If part of it becomes weakened you can see it and fix it. But what happens to weakened or damaged areas of our skeletons?

I was astonished to find out that bones are pretty smart. They don’t grow to adult size and then stop.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthOur skeletons are constantly getting rid of old weakened bone tissue and replacing it with new healthy bone. Osteoporosis Awareness MonthIn a process called remodeling, old weakened areas are broken down and replaced with new well-formed tissue. Our bodies replace about 10 percent of our bone each year.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthIn bones with osteoporosis, the remodeling process has gotten out of whack.Those sturdy crisscrossed structures disappear and bones get weak and start to fracture. Fractures occur most often where there is the most trabecular bone.

The three areas most at risk for osteoporotic fracture are the spine has the most trabecular bone. So, if you have osteoporosis, the vertebrae start to squash under the weight of the torso. The thighbone at the hip is next. It can break just stepping off a curb. And the wrist will likely break if you put out your hands to catch yourself in a fall.

Osteoporosis Awareness Month

But there’s a lot you can do to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health. Weight bearing exercise like walking, jogging, aerobic dance and weight resistance training, stimulate the remodeling process and promote bone growth.

Exercise should be site specific. Do weight bearing and resistance exercises for the whole body but pay special attention to the areas most at risk; the spine, the hip and the wrist. Calcium and Vitamin D are also important.

Remember your bones are living tissue. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

It’s Never Too Late To Take Care Of Your Bones!

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Skeletal Fitness: 3 Important Exercises

Skeletal FitnessSkeletal Fitness is important throughout our lives.

With 12,000 boomers a day turning 65, that’s one every 8 seconds for the next 18 years; and with 50% of women over the age of 50 projected to have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime, I thought I’d be a little practical this year and give you a mini workout to help you protect your bones.

Skeletal Fitness

Our bones are living tissue and grow stronger with weight bearing and resistance exercise. This is called Bone Loading and can help us maintain our skeletal fitness.

And since the three areas most at risk for Osteoporotic fracture are the Spine, the Hip and the Wrist, here are 3 easy Bone Loading exercises, one for each of those areas, you can do using a pair of hand weights or a couple of soup cans. Use a weight that makes the exercise feel somewhat hard after 8 reps. Remember to always exhale on the exertion. Do 8-15 reps of each of these exercises. Start where you’re comfortable and build up.

And of course always consult your doctor before beginning this Skeletal Fitness exerciseprogram.

Double arm row: Loads Spine

  • Start with arms in front of you, weights together.
  • Slowly row arms back, bending elbows bringing weights to chest height.
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together, without shrugging your shoulders.

 

Lunge – Loads Hip and Femur (thigh bone)

  • Stand tall, feet about shoulder width apart, hands and weights at your sides.
  • Keep body erect and lunge forward with left foot, bending both knees to help facilitate the move. (Right heel comes off the floor). Your front knee should be aligned over the second toe of that foot and your weight should be centered between your front and back foot.
  • Hold for 8 seconds, (remember to breathe) return to starting position and repeat lunging with right foot.

 

 

 

Wrist Curls

  • Hold arms in front of you palms up.
  • Using only your wrists, curl weights toward your body until knuckles are facing the ceiling.
  • Slowly lower and repeat.

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Fall Prevention Exercises

Fall PreventionFall Prevention Exercises!

May is osteoporosis month and I can’t say enough about this debilitating yet largely preventable bone disease.

By definition, osteoporosis is a disease that, over time, causes bones to become thinner, more porous and less able to support the body. Bones can become so thin that they break during normal, everyday activity.
I’ve written a number of articles about the importance of weight bearing exercise and a calcium and vitamin D rich diet in preventing osteoporosis. So today I’m focusing on FALL PREVENTION. So many osteoporotic fractures are caused by falls so anything that can prevent those falls should be on your radar.

An interesting fall prevention method that’s been getting a lot of attention lately is using a Whole Body Vibration platform. Research by the Russian and American space programs has long suggested that a piezo-electric effect caused by vibrating the body strengthens muscles, and may prevent bone loss. A recent German study ‘Erlangen Longitudinal Vibration Study (ELVIS) shows it can also greatly reduce falls.

You simply stand on the vibrating plate and shake for several minutes. How long and how vigorously you shake can be dialed to suit your personal body needs and fitness level.

Commercial versions of the vibration platform are available at gyms and rehab centers. Home versions are sold online and at sporting goods and health equipment stores. Prices for the home versions start at about $199.

And for traditionalist in all of us, it’s true, simple balance exercises can go a long way towards reducing your chances of taking a serious fall.

Fall Prevention Exercises Try this simple exercise:

  • Stand erect near a wall (in case you lose your balance) hands at your sides.
  • Slowly raise one foot a couple of inches off the ground while shifting your weight to your grounded foot.
  • When you’ve got your balance slowly raise your arms over your head and reach for the sky.

As you get more comfortable, try raising your held-up foot farther up until it’s near the knee of your grounded leg.

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Osteoporosis Prevention Workout

Osteoporosis Prevention WorkoutAn Osteoporosis Prevention Workout can go a long way towards protecting bone mass and preventing falls that can cause a fracture. 44 million of us are at risk for Osteoporosis. The vast majority are women. Women often develop Osteopenia (low bone mass that can lead to Osteoporosis) in the first few years after menopause because they lose bone-protecting estrogen. One of the symptoms of menopause is bone loss.
The good news is bones are living tissue. They can become denser with weight bearing and resistance exercise.

When working out your bones it’s important to load the areas most at risk for fracture: the spine, the hip, and the wrist. Here are 3 easy Bone Loading exercises, one for each of those areas, you can do using a pair of hand weights or a couple of soup cans. Use a weight that makes the exercise feel somewhat hard after 8 reps. Remember to always exhale on the exertion. Do 8-15 reps of each of these exercises. Start where you’re comfortable and build up.

Osteoporosis Prevention Workout

And of course always consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.

Double arm row: Loads SpineOsteoporosis Prevention Workout

Start with arms in front of you, weights together.
Slowly row arms back, bending elbows bringing weights to chest height.
Squeeze shoulder blades together, without shrugging your shoulders.

Lunge – Loads Hip and Femur (thigh bone)Osteoporosis Prevention Workout

Stand tall, feet about shoulder width apart, hands and weights at your sides.
Keep body erect and lunge forward with left foot, bending both knees to help facilitate the move. (Right heel comes off the floor). Your front knee should be aligned over the second toe of that foot and your weight should be centered between your front and back foot.
Hold for 8 seconds, (remember to breathe) return to starting position and repeat lunging with right foot.

Wrist Curls Osteoporosis Prevention Workout

Hold arms in front of you palms up.
Using only your wrists, curl weights toward your body until knuckles are facing the ceiling.
Slowly lower and repeat.

Remember, it’s never too early or too late to start working out your bones!
For more information on Mirabai’s Skeletal Fitness Workouts please visit http://www.mirabaiholland.com

 

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Fitness & Wellness Q & A’s by Mirabai Holland, MFA ©2013

Here are three fitness and wellness Q & A’s that I’d like to share with you this week. I’d love to hear your comments and feel free to send me your questions too.

Q: I am in fairly decent shape at 62. I stay active and exercise. What does it mean when I hear my bones sometimes “crack” when I do some movements? I do not ever feel pain. Will the exercise help and maybe stop the popping?

A: Exercise is good for both the body and mind, but it probably won’t stop the popping.  People of all ages and fitness levels experience that popping sound; and it doesn’t necessarily indicate any abnormal condition. Your joints are lubricated with a substance called synovial fluid. It contains nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide gasses. The popping sound is actually bubbles of those gasses escaping when you move your joints. This is normal and nothing to worry about. But people who feel pain at those moments should consult their doctors. They may have arthritic joints due to the loss of cartilage.

 Q: I am in my 40’s with a high stress job. I exercise at the gym at work at least 3 times a week. I try not to bring work home with me but I am always tense and I have trouble sleeping at night. My mind is racing. Warm milk hasn’t worked, bubble baths make me tenser and I don’t want to take drugs. Any ideas?

A: You are not alone. Stress is one of the main contributors to aging and disease. It sounds like you have a build-up of stress so it’s important to relieve tension at work as well as when you are trying to fall asleep. Try this breathing exercise at work and then again as you are lying in bed. It should help relax you and slow down your thoughts. Start with taking a breath and holding it for three seconds and then exhaling. Repeat and hold for 4 seconds and continue each time holding a second longer until you get to ten seconds. After the last breath, keep your eyes closed and focus on a peaceful memory. A place or time when you felt most relaxed. Stay there as long as you can or at night until you fall asleep.

Q: I need to lose 20 pounds. I am doing aerobics three times a week and watching my calories but I am losing so slowly, I was wondering if there is any other type of exercise that could help me lose weight faster? I am really getting frustrated and I am almost ready to just give up.

A: Try adding 2-3 days of weight training to the mix. Studies show the winning formula is a combination of aerobic and weight training exercise. Moderate aerobic exercise burns calories while you are doing it and for a short time afterwards. Weight training burns calories too but it also increases your lean muscle mass. So as you add more muscle, you’ll burn more calories all day long. Research from Tufts University found that after 12 weeks of weight training, total calorie burning increased by about 15 percent which for an average adult, could amount to an extra 240 to 400 calories a day.

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Skeletal Fitness Core & Balance For Your Bones by Mirabai Holland, MFA © 2012

I’m up in the Colorado Rockies shooting a couple of new videos.

Here’s an exerpt from one of my soon to be released Osteoporosis exercise

videos shot in this location.

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Best Exercises For Combating Osteoporosis by Mirabai Holland, MFA ©2012

Skeletal Fitness by Mirabai Holland: A Workout For Your Bones

Osteoporosis is one of those silent diseases that can creep up on you before you know you have it. To combat Osteoporosis and help keep your bones healthy for a lifetime, it’s important to increase your Skeletal Fitness!

Osteoporosis is a disease, which, over time, causes bones to become thinner, more porous and less able to support the body. Usually there’s no pain in the early stages.

44 million of us are at risk for Osteoporosis. The vast majority are women.

Women often develop Osteopenia (low bone mass that can lead to Osteoporosis) in the first few years after menopause because they lose bone-protecting estrogen.

But, we can prevent and help reverse the effects of Osteoporosis by working out our bones. On the outside, bones look solid and rock-like, but they’re not.

They’re living tissue. There is a smooth, hard, outside layer

made of cortical bone, and the inside, is a strong, light weight,

honeycomb-like structure, called trabecular bone, which contains blood vessels, and bone marrow. The combination of cortical and trabecular bone enables the skeleton to be light, strong, flexible and efficient.

By young adulthood, our bones have grown to their full size and density. But activity in our bones is far from over. In a cycle called remodeling, old and weakened areas of our skeletons are broken down and replaced with new well-formed tissue. Adults have about 10 to 15% of their bone replaced each year.

In bones with Osteoporosis, the remodeling cycle is out of balance. Bone is broken down but little or nothing takes its place. The outside hard cortical layer

gets thinner, and the honeycombed, trabecular inside becomes more porous.

Most people don’t discover they have Osteoporosis until a fracture occurs.

Fractures occur most often at the spine, at the hip, and at the wrist.

The good news is since bones are living tissue they can become denser with weight bearing exercise.

For example, astronauts lose bone mass in the weightlessness of space. To combat this, NASA is training astronauts for a mission to Mars, to do weight bearing exercise that simulates the exercises they will need to do in space to maintain their bone mass. Weight bearing exercise for Skeletal Fitness is called bone loading. When working out your bones it’s important to load the areas most at risk for fracture: the spine, the hip, and the wrist.

So for instance try these Do’s to help load the three areas most at risk:

· Carrying a backpack instead of a purse to help load your spine.

· Take stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can to load your hips.

· Grab some soup cans and do 8-16 reps of wrist curls and when that gets too light invest in some hand weights. Remember; always exhale on exertion when you’re lifting a weight. Start with a comfortable weight and add one pound every couple of weeks, or, when it feels too easy.

· As you get stronger you can add a full body weight-training program with special emphasis on the areas at risk for Osteoporosis.

Weight train every other day, because your body needs time to recover and grow stronger.

If you are at risk for or have Osteoporosis, here are some Don’ts

· As a general rule, don’t do anything that requires you to bend forward from the waist with the back rounded; this is called spinal flexion and increases the risk of collapsed vertebra so no toe touches.

· Avoid sit-ups, and crunches. Instead, you can strengthen your abdominals by keeping them pulled in, navel back to your spine during daily activity.

Also, always consult with your doctor, get all the information you can, together you can decide what’s best for you. And remember, it’s never too early or too late to start working out your bones!

For more information on bone-loading workouts please visit www.mirabaiholland.com

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