Osteoporosis Relief with Yoga

Osteoporosis Relief with Yoga

Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones due to genes, subpar-diet, lack of exercise, lifestyle or all the above. When diagnosed with this condition people are more at risk for breaking a bone, often a hip, leg or arm. The most vulnerable people are men and women over age fifty and according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF): 

  • Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk 
  • One in two women and up to one in four men will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis. For women, the incidence is greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined
  • Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because you cannot feel your weakening bones 
  • People with osteoporosis can break a bone from a minor fall, or in serious cases, even from simple actions like sneezing or bumping into furniture
  • 24 percent of hip fracture patients age 50 and over die in the year following the fracture
  • Six months after a hip fracture, only 15 percent of patients can walk across a room unaided

Getting enough calcium is important for preventing osteoporosis but it is not a magic cure as the bones may have a difficult time absorbing calcium supplements when other preventative actions are not practiced. Less animal proteins and more plant-based choices can help as well as specific exercise protocols. The best exercise for osteoporosis is weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercises and yoga is the perfect choice. 

More Osteoporosis Facts

It is important to note that there are many facts of osteoporosis that should be considered. The ones mentioned above show the seriousness of this disease; these facts reported by MedlinePlus, lists some causes to be concerned about: 

  • Getting older
  • Being small and thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Being a white or Asian woman
  • Having low bone density (this can be determined by a medical test)

Talk to your doctor to take a bone density test which will determine if you have osteoporosis and on what level. This disease is manageable and even if you are not diagnosed, adding yoga to your daily routine could be kind of a lifesaver. 

Pose, Balance, Breathe and Strengthen

Yoga is an ancient practice with the beginnings recorded as developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. It consists of meditative breathing in conjunction with many varieties of stretches, balanced poses and muscle strengthening that could help a variety of health ailments, including osteoporosis. 

A ten year study of pre and post yoga for osteopathic subjects showed such significant benefits it was titled, ‘Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss’. The study followed 741 participants dedicated to a daily 12 minute yoga session. It consisted of one pose per minute, setting into that pose, and then holding it for twenty to thirty-seconds while breathing deep in the nose and out the mouth. Each pose combined balance and muscle strengthening in a safe, easy to complete manner. 

The study reported,

“Bone mineral density improved in spine, hips, and femur of the 227 moderately and fully compliant patients. Monthly gain in BMD [bone mineral density] was significant in spine and femur [the hip gained 50% BMD]. No yoga-related serious injuries were imaged or reported. Bone quality appeared qualitatively improved in yoga practitioners…[conclusion] Yoga appears to raise BMD in the spine and the femur safely.”

Dr. Loren Fishman, back pain specialist, former Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia Medical School and co-author of the 12 minute yoga study commented, 

“Yoga puts more pressure on the bone than gravity does, by opposing one group of muscles against another it stimulates osteocytes, the bone making cells”.

Yoga can be practiced on many levels ranging from beginner all the way to hot yoga and, like anything new, it is recommended to start with a beginner class. Chair yoga is excellent for first timers as well as those struggling with balance, mobility issues and especially osteoporosis as this is the safest way to practice. 

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis or you want to start a preventative protocol to avoid the disease, yoga could be a choice you may not ever want to give up.