Bone Strengthening Exercises for the Hips & Spine
Exercise is your skeleton's best friend. It can prevent and, in some cases, even reverse the effects of osteoporosis. It does this by slowing bone loss and stimulating the formation of new bone tissue. The hips and spine are some of the first bones affected by bone loss but, fortunately, both areas respond well to exercise.
The remodeling system manages bone strength by monitoring the loads placed on bone. When a bone is stressed by impact, weight-bearing activity or strength training, cells called osteoclasts break up and remove weak bone. Then building cells called osteoblasts add new stronger bone tissue.
Types of Exercises for Bones in the Hips and Spine
Bone growth is stimulated through increased force and impact. Functional strength training challenges your bones by increasing force in short powerful bursts, followed by a period of rest. As your muscles get stronger, they continue to pull harder on the attached bones, stimulating more growth. Impact stimulates bone growth by surprising the skeletal system. When bone experiences a sudden impact, it lays down reinforcement to build itself up against future damage. The best way to add impact is by jumping, but it is important to jump correctly. Jumping rope or bouncing on a mini trampoline can actually break down bone tissue if done extensively over time. On the other hand, a jump-stop will safely challenge your skeleton.
Bone-Strengthening Exercises for the Hips
Bone strengthening is site specific. In other words, only the bones that are loaded will get stronger. Your hips include the femoral bones and the pelvis. These bones respond well to both strengthening exercises and impact. Strength-training for your hip bones must load the muscles that attach to your femur and pelvis. Some of the best exercises for strengthening your hip bones include squats, forward lunges, side lunges, stepping and jump-stop. To do a jump-stop, lower into a squat, then push up and off the ground, straightening your legs. Upon landing, lower back into a squat and pause before pushing off again. New exercisers and people with advanced osteoporosis, fractures, pain when jumping or difficulty balancing should not jump.
Bone-Strengthening Exercises for the Spine
Vertebrae are the bones that make up your spine. The spine is divided into three regions: lumbar, thoracic and cervical. Of these, only the lumbar vertebrae in your lower back respond to the impact of jumping. To strengthen the others, you must increase the load by strengthening the muscles that attach to them. One of the best exercises for strengthening your vertebrae is the row. As with jumps, it is important to do this exercise correctly. Your back must stay straight throughout the motion as you extend your arms in front of your body then pull your elbows behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Once you can do the move correctly, add resistance such as exercise bands or hand weights and combine this movement with forward lunges or squats. Other good exercises to strengthen and support the bones in your spine include lat pull-downs, single-arm rows and planks.
- Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences: Long-term Exercise Using Weighted Vests Prevents Hip Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Women
- Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: Jumping Improves Hip and Lumbar Spine Bone Mass in Prepubescent Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: Benefits for Bone From Resistance Exercise and Nutrition in Long-Duration Spaceflight: Evidence from Biochemistry and Densitometry
- American Council on Exercise: Exercise Library: Jump and Reach
- American Council on Exercise: Exercise Library: Seated Row
Cindy Killip is a health and fitness specialist, health coach, author and speaker who has been teaching and writing about exercise and wellness since 1989. She authored "Living the BONES Lifestyle: A Practical Guide to Conquering the Fear of Osteoporosis." Killip holds multiple certifications through the American Council on Exercise and degrees in communications and sociology from Trinity University.