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Spinal Osteoporosis Exercises
Osteoporosis, more common among women, occurs when bones become weak and brittle, rendering them susceptible to fractures and injury. Causes include losses in bone mass and inadequate calcium in the bones. According to the University of Maryland Spine Program, 40 percent of women over the age of 80 will experience some form of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing endurance exercises and weight training exercises increase bone density in the spine and strengthen the muscles that surround the spine.
Low-Impact Cardio Exercises
Moderate to severe back pain is a symptom of osteoporosis. Engaging in regular, low-impact cardio exercise alleviates some symptoms of spinal osteoporosis. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that increases bone density, but does not place excessive stress on the joints. Hiking, light aerobics and cycling on a recumbent bike are all appropriate modes of exercise for someone with spinal osteoporosis. Swimming does not increase bone density and does not provide the same weight bearing benefits as exercises that are done on land. The University of Maryland recommends that persons with osteoporosis exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week, to maintain bone mass.
Weight Training Exercises
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), bones become more fragile and brittle because of age and declining physical activity levels. ACE encourages persons to engage in strength training exercises to promote bone health and retain bone mass. Resistance tubing and resistance bands provide the muscles and bones with external stress while limiting a person with spinal osteoporosis' chances of injury. Light-weight dumbbells provide external resistance and using them to perform exercises will increase bone density. The American Chiropractic Association Rehab Center advocates that strength training is an imperative part of chiropractic care for patients with osteoporosis.
Core Strenghtening Exercises
Spinal osteoporosis patients should focus on the core muscles during weight training. Building foundational strength in the abdomen, hips, pelvis and lower back will provide support for weak and brittle spinal bones. The pelvic tilt is an exercise that strengthens the abdomen and lower back muscles. To do this exercise, lie supine on a mat. Next, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, 6 inches in front of your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles and use them to tilt your pelvis up slightly--don't move your hips or glutes while you do this. Hold in the lifted position for five seconds--range of motion will be very minimal during this exercise.
- University of Maryland Spine Program: Patient's guide to osteoporosis
- "ACE Personal Trainer Manual;" American Council on Exercise; 2003
- American Council on Exercise: Supine Pelvic Tilt
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. What is osteoporosis and what causes it?
- Jakob F, Seefried L, Schwab M. Age and osteoporosis. Effects of aging on osteoporosis, the diagnostics and therapy. Internist (Berl). 2014;55(7):755-761. doi:10.1007/s00108-014-3468-z
- Gourlay ML, Overman RA, Emsrud KE. Bone density screening and re-screening in postmenopausal women and older men. Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2015;13(6):390–398. doi:10.1007/s11914-015-0289-5
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. What women need to know.
- Golds G, Houdek D, Arnason T. Male hypogonadism and osteoporosis: The effects, clinical consequences, and treatment of testosterone deficiency in bone health. Int J Endocrinol. 2017;2017:4602129. doi:10.1155/2017/4602129
- Cleveland Clinic. Osteoporosis. Updated October 4, 2015.
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases. What people with diabetes need to know about osteoporosis. Updated November 2018
- Iseme RA, Mcevoy M, Kelly B, et al. Is osteoporosis an autoimmune mediated disorder? Bone Rep. 2017;7:121–131. doi:10.1016/j.bonr.2017.10.003
- Tuchendler D, Bolanowski M. The influence of thyroid dysfunction on bone metabolism. Thyroid Res. 2014;7:12. doi:10.1186/s13044-014-0012-0
- Clark GR, Duncan EL. The genetics of osteoporosis. Br. Med. Bull. 2015;113(1),73–81. doi:10.1093/bmb/ldu042
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases. Osteoporosis: Peak bone mass in women. Updated October 2018
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases. The Surgeon General’s report on bone health and osteoporosis: What it means to you. Updated February 2017
Judy Bruen is a private certified personal trainer and wellness coach. She holds dual master's degrees from Boston College in clinical social work and pastoral ministry. She currently works with individuals on fitness, health and lifestyle goals.