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Osteoporosis - the Silent Epidemic! How can Pilates help?

So, what is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means Porous Bones and it is the deterioration of bone tissue (mainly the cancellous tissue) that leaves our bones porous, brittle, and more susceptible to fracture It is known as the silent epidemic because many people are unaware that they have it until they suffer a fracture.

A bit of background - your body is made up of 206 bones that support your every move. Their main function is to provide support for muscles, protect critical organs and provide a warehouse of essential minerals.

However, are you aware that bone is alive and it is continually changing? Old worn-out bone is constantly being broken down by cells called Osteoclasts and being rebuilt by bone-building cells called Osteoblasts. This process is called Bone Remodelling.

Peak bone mass occurs around the mid 30’s when you have the most bone that you will ever have. Following this, the bone remodelling process starts to happen at a lower rate leading to a drop in the amount of bone you have – the Osteoclasts are breaking down more bone than is being replaced by Osteoblasts. The rate of bone loss is highly variable and is dependent on 3 main things – hormones, diet and physical activity. Menopause, especially, can have a big effect on bone health when woman can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5-7 years following menopause, with one in three woman experiencing enough bone loss to end up with Osteoporosis.

In today’s busy world, maintaining good bone health may seem low on our list of priorities. However how we take care of our bones now has a big impact on our physical function and confidence as we age. We need to become more focussed on looking after our health from the inside out!

So how can we improve our bone health … Well, your bones love a good workout, whatever your age. Simply put, when your muscles contract, they pull on the bone, via the tendons, which stimulates the bone to turnover new cells. This is why weight bearing exercises are especially beneficial for bone health. And by weight bearing, I am not necessarily talking about lifting heavy dumbbells – it could be as simple as moving the body against the force of gravity.

This is where Pilates comes in. Many of the exercises in Pilates work against gravity thus strengthening key areas of the body. The three areas which are particularly vulnerable to Osteoporosis are the spine, wrists and hips, as they have the higher percentage of cancellous bone. Pilates helps strengthen all these areas. The anti-gravitational extension in exercises carried out in Prone position can help strengthen the spine. The wide range of exercises which are carried out in 4 Point kneeling position can help strengthen the wrists and many of the exercises carried out in a Side Lying position focus on hip strength and mobility. We also use small props throughout the classes to add further resistance to standard exercises – again promoting good bone health.

Make 2023 the year to focus on your health from Inside to Out! Contact Lesley to find out further information on classes available.

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