Osteoporosis, or low bone density, and osteopenia, which is decreased bone density, are conditions which predispose one to a risk of fractured bones. With this process, the calcium content of our bones lessens, making bones more brittle. There are a number of known risk factors (for example, being female, older age, lighter build, certain medication). Here, I would like to talk about the potential other link which is that between osteoporosis and posture.
Throughout our daily lives, we do load bearing activities. Walking and running are prime examples; with each step we take, we work against gravity, feeling the impact of ground through out feet which recoils back through our body. This is a very beneficial process which loads our bones. Loaded bones are strong; mechanical loading encourages an increase of bone mineral density. This is true for walking and any other activity where bones are loaded, for instance, lifting weights, using resistance on any limb, etc. It does not need to be gym equipment; even lifting our normal objects like full shopping bags loads our bones. Working on Pilates equipment and with other resistance aides, such as resistance bands, lends itself beautifully to this process as we use springs to increase load on the bones to help them stay strong.
There is one small catch though, which is this - to achieve optimal loading, joints must be centrated in the sockets, and body alignment needs to be in good form. For instance, if we are stooped, the process of loading the bones of our spine through walking or running won't work as well. So whilst we work on keeping your body and bones strong through using resistance, we also work to help your posture be as good as possible.
Is osteoporosis more likely to develop if we are stooped? Quite possibly, or it could also be the other way round - we start losing our alignment as bone density decreases due to other risk factors. Does it have a greater chance of developing if we are physically inactive? Probably. Certainly we need to be careful with increasing the levels of activity and not overloading the body straight away; and with careful management, exercise might help improve bone strength. Photo credit - www.runwaypilates.com