Why are Healthy Bones so Important?
Many people don't realise that bone is living, growing tissue that is constantly changing and adapting in response to the forces placed on it. Bones allow for movement as they act as attachment sites for muscle tendons and as the muscle contracts it pulls on the bone which facilitates movement. Bones also have a protective function such as the rib cage which protects the heart and lungs and the skull which protects the brain. Among other functions, they are also a storehouse for minerals such as calcium and phosphorus which are released as needed by the body. Maintaining bone mineral density should be an important consideration when choosing an exercise program as brittle or porous bones known as Osteoporosis can lead to fracture. Bones are our internal framework and Pilates is ideal for maintaining good bone health as long as the exercises selected incorporate weight-bearing and resistance.
Pilates for Increasing Bone Density
Future proofing your bones against any loss of bone density is definitely the best preventative approach to ensure you maintain healthy bones as you age. A Pilates program that is tailored to individual needs with a focus on building bone density would include, weight bearing, resistance, jumping and balance training. Extra weights can be added where appropriate to increase load and it's also beneficial to change the exercises regularly or add variations as bones can become accustomed to the same forces being applied to them, so it is more advantageous to keep your program unpredictable. Forward, reverse and side planks which can also incorporate push-ups, are examples of good weight-bearing exercises especially if you combine transitioning from one position to the other without rest and work on increasing the length of time that you hold the plank position.
Pilates for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
Osteopenia is a precursor or midpoint between healthy bones and Osteoporosis. Once you have received a diagnosis of either of these conditions it means your bones are at greater risk of fracture and your Pilates exercise program needs to be modified accordingly. Certain movements should be eliminated from your program such as forward or loaded spinal flexion such as bending forward to touch your toes for example. Side bending and rotation should also be avoided. In addition to the usual core and glute strengthening the focus should now shift to include additional back extension exercises which strengthen the back muscles. Also increased balance training is crucial to minimise the risk of falls and prevent possible fracture. The key is also regular practice. A minimum of three times per week is essential but I would suggest daily practice would produce the best results.
Other Factors to Consider
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