Does Yoga therapy have viable solutions for Osteoporosis? We hear conflicting information about preventative actions that we can take for our health, but women don’t want to take a wrong turn in regard to prevention or treatment. Many women worry about the possibility of Osteoporosis occurring after menopause. Osteoporosis is a disease that breaks down bone density in post-menopausal women. This disease causes the bones to weaken, which can lead to broken bones with the slightest bump or fall.
Types of Osteoporosis
There are two types of osteoporosis: post-menopausal osteoporosis and senile osteoporosis. Post-menopausal osteoporosis occurs in women after menopause. Senile osteoporosis occurs after age 75 and happens in men and women and often causes the stance of the individual to change. This change happens because of the breakdown of bone in the body.
The medical community is always looking for ways to treat or prevent osteoporosis from occurring. Changing your lifestyle and increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake has shown to greatly improve your chances of avoiding osteoporosis. Strength bearing exercise has also shown to benefit your body by strengthening the muscles surrounding the bone and building bone mass. However, it seems logical that strength bearing or weight bearing exercise should be progressive. Suddenly forcing the skeletal frame to carry heavy loads could cause fractures.
Yoga, Pilates, and progressive weight resistance are treatments that show much promise. Each of these methods require a trainer, instructor, or teacher who is experienced and certified. With the supervision of a trained, experienced, and certified yoga teacher, asana (yoga posture) is the perfect exercise for a person with osteoporosis. It is slow and methodical. Each yoga pose requires and individual to use his or her core strength and hold the pose in one position for a specified time. This strengthens the muscle and the bone. There is a need for more studies that directly relate exercise to bone building. However, weight-bearing exercises have shown to be beneficial in bone building. NASA used bone building exercises for astronauts who lost bone density in environments without gravity. Therefore, walking, yoga, Pilates, and progressive weight resistance will build bone in your body.
Precautions Before Practice
When choosing yoga as your therapy you must consider that most instructors may not have knowledge of safe asanas for osteoporosis patients. One 20 something yoga instructor with an idea that every person must do a headstand could give advice that causes pain for the rest of your life, unless she has been trained in a form of therapeutic yoga. You must be your own advocate and practice safe yoga techniques to prevent any fractures that could occur. If you practice safe yoga poses, you will see great improvement in your strength.
Yoga therapy is also recommended to improve an individual’s balance in order to prevent falls that most often lead to broken bones. Each yoga pose targets specific muscles and strengthens them which leads to better balance. The increased balance, strength training, and bone building exercises in yoga are the most beneficial for your health and treatment of your osteoporosis. The benefits are there, but one must seek the guidance of a yoga therapist or a certified yoga instructor who has a successful track record in working with seniors.
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For more information about clinical studies related to exercise for Osteoporosis, three of these studies are listed below.
Article first published online: 21 JUL 2009
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume 57, Issue 9, pages 1569–1579, September 2009