Bone Strengthening Exercises for the Hips & Spine

Woman performing stretching exercises on beach

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.

Bone Remodeling

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.