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Making Pilates safe for women with osteoporosis

By Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD

I often recommend Pilates to help women build strength, flexibility, balance, alignment and reaction time—all of which help prevent and control osteoporosis and avoid needless fractures. And just a quick glance at the medical literature shows how important the benefits of Pilates can be!

But that said, I’m often asked if Pilates is safe for those with osteoporosis. This is an important question because many classic Pilates movements involve spinal flexion (bending forward) which is not suited for those with weak spinal vertebrae. But this need not stop anyone from enjoying Pilates now that there exists what I call “osteo-modified Pilates,” such as the “Bone Smart Pilates” program by physical therapist Teresa Maldonado Marchok.

Below is a video chat with Teresa that includes her modified “hinge from the hip movement” which avoids the dangers of classic forward bends. You might want to take a few minutes to check out Teresa’s tips for making tips for making Pilates “bone smart”. 

Watch the video now.

References:
Babayigit,  GI, et al., Integrating Pilates exercise into an exercise program for 65+ year – old women to reduce falls.  J Sports Sci Med, 2011, March; 10(1):105-111

Bird, ML, J Fell. Positive long – term effects of Pilates exercise on age – related decline in balance and strength and older, community – dwelling men and women.  J . Aging Phys Act. 2014, July 22(3):342-7.

Kucukcakir, N et al., Effects of Pilates exercises on pain, functional status and quality of life in women with osteoporosis.  J Body Move Ther. 2013, Apr; 17 (2):204-11.

You can try Dr. Brown’s comprehensive supplements in her at-home bone health program, developed with Women's Health Network. Get her exclusive formulations along with her detailed lifestyle and diet guidance, plus telephone support whenever you need it. Learn more about the Better Bones programs.

We created the Better Bones blog as our forum to express opinions and educate the public about natural means of supporting and improving bone health and overall wellness. As part of this forum, we sometimes discuss medical issues and medications, and their effects on bone health in general. However, we cannot advise readers about specific medical issues in this forum. If you wish to obtain advice from Susan E. Brown, PhD, about your specific bone health and nutritional concerns, please visit our Consultations page. Other specific medical questions should be referred to your healthcare provider.

 

 

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We created the Better Bones blog as our forum to express opinions and educate the public about natural means of supporting and improving bone health and overall wellness. As part of this forum, we sometimes discuss medical issues and medications, and their effects on bone health in general. However, we cannot advise readers about specific medical issues in this forum. If you wish to obtain advice from Susan E. Brown, PhD, about your specific bone health and nutritional concerns, please visit our Consultations page. Other specific medical questions should be referred to your healthcare provider.

Comments

January 12. 2015 14:16

I understand that the yoga video you suggest includes forward bends, which you say are not good for people with osteoporosis. I used to take a lot of yoga classes, but stopped once I learned about the problems with some of the poses. Can you check out the video you recommend with this in mind.I'd love to find a good yoga video that is good for people with osteoporosis.

Thank you,

Kristine

Kristine Kidd

January 12. 2015 16:53

Regarding yoga forward folds or forward bends, in my yoga class which is geared for senior citizens and those with physical limitations, our instructor has us do modified forward folds, which is either standing or in a chair. You bend forward but put your hands on your knees with elbows pointing outward to the sides and bending your knees, putting your head downward. Its hard to describe without a photo but hope u get the idea.

Judy

January 12. 2015 16:55

re my comment about modified forward folds, if doing it standing u bend your knees. If you are seated in a chair, no need to bend knees:) Sorry I omitted that above.

Judy

January 13. 2015 10:50

I'm happy to hear about the bone smart pilates dvd.  I've been doing yoga for about 15 years and would love to have a bone smart yoga dvd since I now have osteoporosis.  Do you know of a bone smart yoga dvd?

Thanks.

Carole

January 13. 2015 17:39

Would also love a bone smart yoga DVD. Just wanted to get another vote in.  I do Tai Chi and Yoga.

Elaine

January 14. 2015 12:28

Thanks for the comments, everyone! As for Pilates, the Bone Smart Pilates DVD is included in the Pilates Bundle (along with props) and we have other Pilates & yoga DVDs (acceptable for people with osteoporosis) -- all are available on the website store: http://www.betterbones.com/store/default.aspx#cat_1 Hope this helps!  

Susan Brown

January 15. 2015 11:02

Kristie,

Thank you for watching the video and your question. First of all when doing any type of exercise you want to consult with your doctor or physical therapist. These videos are modified versions of these exercises specifically designed for those like yourself who have been diagnosed with Osteoporosis. As far as bending forward, Theresa in the video says to bend forward you want to hinge from the hips and keep the spine straight and stable. You do not want to round the spine as that will cause stress of the spine you want to avoid.

Gina Galli

January 16. 2015 18:42

I didn't know this about back bends... is this only pertinent for osteoporosis? What about osteopenia?

Linda

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