Quite a few of my pilates clients are sufferers of Osteoporosis, many finding out after a fall and a bone breakage.
There are many risk factors for osteoporosis which include family history, medications and lifestyle.
But, how do we know whether our bones are healthy or not? We can’t see them like we can see our skin, or listen to them like the heart or lungs. Bone density scans are one way to look inside bone, but bone density tests are rarely recommended until after menopause unless you have risk factors. Osteoporosis may be developing long before that.
The technical stuff…. (skip this if it you don’t like the science!)
Our bones are made of a strong outer case. On the inside of this casing, is a mesh which looks a bit like a sponge, with blood vessels and bone marrow in the space in between the bone. Quite simply – osteoporosis occurs when the holes in this mesh become bigger, making it weak.
It’s widely recognized that the condition affects women after menopause, the reason for this is because the ovaries stop producing the female oestrogen, and testosterone levels drop dramatically (which is vital in bone development and health)
Here’s what to look for:
1. Receding gums. Our teeth are connected to the jaw bone and if the jaw is losing bone, gums can recede. Standard x-rays at the dentist will identify this.
2. Weak, brittle fingernails. Nail condition often improves once bone health is supported with the right supplements and diet. But be aware that weak nails can also be caused by many other things (like thyroid problems, having your hands in water frequently or exposure to chemicals) so keep this in mind.
3. Cramps, muscle aches and bone pain. Most of us chalk these things up to old age, but these may indicate that your bones need a little love. Vitamin D deficiency is nearly epidemic now and research has shown that this contributes to muscle aches.
Cramping can indicate low levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Over time, these deficiencies can lead to bone loss. Getting leg cramps at night? Take your calcium/magnesium supplement at bedtime. It’s calming, so it will help you sleep in addition to helping mid-night cramps.
4. You’re getting shorter in height Height loss may be caused by weak spinal muscles and poor posture, but it may also indicate silent vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis.
5. You’re out of shape. Bone mass is maintained by doing weight bearing exercise (pilates, yoga, running, lifting weights). This is one of THE best ways to maintain your bones. The good news is that even if you’re inactive now you can turn it around if you get up and get moving.
Here is a short video 7 minutes long, all doable what ever your current level of fitness. (if you want 3 more EASY pilates/movement videos, don’t forget to sign up below…
Bone Loading Exercises