I think it’s time we all put a little more muscle into our fracture prevention efforts. Exercise, specifically strengthening tendons and muscles, can enhance bone and reduce risk of recurrent fractures.
This is most important for those of you who have already experienced a fracture and are therefore much more likely to experience another — especially if you had a fracture with only minimum trauma, like falling from a standing position.
Below, I share some exercises to strengthen the wrist and the spine — as well as a balance enhancement exercise that will help reduce hip fractures.
To strengthen the wrist
Wrist fractures are the second most common of all osteoporotic fractures with some 400,000 occurring each year in the U.S. Wrist breaks most often happen if you fall forward and land on your hand.
Get started: Use hand weights, or even soup cans. With the weight in hand, flex the wrist up, then down, and then in a circle for full range of motion. Do 20 repetitions of each movement, gradually using heavier weights.
To strengthen the spine
Vertebral body fractures are the most common of all low trauma fractures in both women and men. Several studies have shown that back strengthening exercises reduce the risk of a first or recurrent spinal fracture. Any movement that strengthens your back extensor muscles (those muscles which go up and down the sides of the spine) will enhance spinal bone density and significantly reduce fracture risk.
Get started: Practice the back extensor chest lift daily, as shown below, to reduce the incidence of new spinal fracture. Start with one rep a day and work up to 20 reps a day for five days a week. For extra strength, you can add a weighted backpack as illustrated below or wear a weighted vest. Learn more.
To reduce hip fractures
Nearly all hip fractures occur as a result of a fall, so balance enhancement ranks right along with leg strengthening for hip fracture prevention. The exercise below strengthens the lower body, improves balance, and is said also to enhance digestion.
Get started: “A simple kicking the heel forward exercise builds both balance and leg strength. Stand firmly on both feet placing your hands on your hips, then lift up one leg by bending the knee, then push that foot out in front of you with foot flexed, thrusting the heel out. Hold on to a chair or table if you are unsteady. Begin with 10 reps on each leg and work up to 20.
If you have already fractured, it is wise to take a serious look at every step of my Better Bones Health Package