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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Does Low Bone Mass Mean Osteoporosis?

mbai-skeleton-hipNearly 30 years ago when I was in school, I wrote an exercise physiology paper on exercise and osteoporosis.

At that time there wasn’t much research available. But even then, the studies I found on tennis players, astronauts, and bed rest pointed in the direction that weight-bearing exercise could help maintain the bone density you have and even promote bone growth. I was intrigued. I’ve followed the research over the years and even created an osteoporosis exercise program.

In working with my clients, I often hear the question “what’s the difference between osteoporosis and low bone mass? (osteopenia) And what can I do about it?

Well to answer these questions, I have to start at the beginning.

Osteoporosis is a disease, which, 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, every day activity. Osteoporosis is a major health threat. 54 Million are at risk, nearly 80% are women.

Postmenopausal women are particularly at risk because they stop producing estrogen, a major protector of bone mass.

As we age some bone loss is inevitable. Women age 65 or men age 70 should get a bone mineral density test. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or other risk factors you may need a BMD much earlier.

The test is completely painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes.
It compares your bone mineral density to that of an average healthy young person. Your results are called your T score. The difference between your score and the average young person’s T-score is called a standard deviation. (SD)

Here is how to interpret your T score:

  • Between +1 and –1: normal bone density.
  • Between -1 and -2.5: low bone density (osteopenia).
  • T-score of -2.5 or lower: osteoporosis.

Until recently it was thought that if you had low bone mass (osteopenia) you were well on your way to getting osteoporosis. But it’s now known even at this stage bone loss can be slowed down, stopped and even reversed. You and your doctor will have a number of options depending upon your particular condition.

Many MDs like to start with a calcium and vitamin D rich diet coupled with weight bearing exercise. For many of us, that’s all we need. Others will require medication and there are many bone-building medications available.

Remember it’s never too early to start taking care of your bones. The more bone density you have as a young person the less likely to end up with osteoporosis later in life.

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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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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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3 Easy Exercises for Skeletal Fitness By Mirabai Holland, MFA © 2011




Those of you who read my column regularly know that in May, Osteoporosis month, I always write about Osteoporosis.
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. Our bones are living tissue and grow stronger with weight bearing and resistance exercise. This is called Bone Loading.
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 or any exercise program.

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.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a wealth of information on your bones and Osteoporosis on its website www.NOF.org
And for more information on bone loading exercise visit www.movingfree.com

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