Does Yoga for osteoporosis seem like a good adjunct therapy? We hear conflicting information about preventative actions we can take for our health, but patients don’t want to take a wrong turn regarding prevention or treatment. Many women worry about the possibility of Osteoporosis occurring after menopause. Osteoporosis is a disease that breaks down bone density in post-menopausal women. This disease causes the bones to weaken, leading to broken bones with the slightest bump or fall.
Types of Osteoporosis
There are two types of osteoporosis: primary and secondary. Primary osteoporosis is the most common type, and it occurs when the body doesn’t make enough new bone or breaks down bone too quickly. This can be due to genetic factors, hormonal changes, or lifestyle choices. Secondary osteoporosis is less common and can be caused by certain medications, health conditions, or treatments (like chemotherapy). Osteoporosis can lead to fractures, which can be extremely painful. The good news is that treatments are available to help prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. One such treatment is therapeutic yoga. Yoga has been shown to improve bone density and strength and increase balance and flexibility (which can help reduce the risk of falls). If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for developing it, talk to your doctor about whether therapeutic yoga suits you.
The medical community is always looking for ways to treat or prevent osteoporosis from occurring. Changing your lifestyle and increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake has significantly improved your chances of avoiding osteoporosis. Strength-bearing exercise has also benefited your body by strengthening the muscles surrounding the bone and building bone mass. However, it seems logical that strength-bearing or weight-bearing exercises should be progressive. Suddenly forcing the skeletal frame to carry heavy loads could cause fractures.
Yoga, Pilates, and progressive weight resistance show much promise. Each method requires a trainer, instructor, or experienced and certified teacher. With the supervision of a trained, experienced, and certified yoga teacher, asana (yoga posture) is the perfect exercise for a person with osteoporosis. It is slow and methodical. Each yoga pose requires an individual to use his or her core strength and hold the pose in one position for a specified time. This strengthens the muscle and the bone.
More Research Needed
There is a need for more studies that directly relate exercise to bone building. However, weight-bearing exercises are beneficial in bone-building. NASA used bone-building exercises for astronauts who lost bone density in environments without gravity. Therefore, walking, yoga, Pilates, and progressive weight resistance will build bone in your body. However, any program must start slowly and handle you with care.
Are There Any Risks?
Yes! Some yoga classes may not be safe for osteoporosis patients. Classes that are not gentle should be avoided. In particular, poses that require you to twist or bend at the waist quickly can put too much pressure on your spine, leading to fractures. Poses that require you to balance on one leg can also be risky, as they can cause you to fall. If you have osteoporosis, it’s best to stick to gentle yoga poses that don’t require you to twist, bend, or balance on one leg. Talk with teachers and staff before attending a class. Make them aware of your health, and they will place or refer you to a gentle and therapeutic class.
Precautions Before Practice
When choosing yoga as your option, you must consider that most instructors may not have knowledge of safe asanas for osteoporosis patients. One 20-something yoga instructor with the idea that every person must do a headstand could give advice that causes pain for the rest of your life unless she has been trained in a form of therapeutic yoga. You must be your advocate and practice safe yoga techniques to prevent any fractures that could occur. If you practice safe yoga poses, you will significantly improve your strength.
Therapeutic Yoga is also recommended to improve an individual’s balance to prevent falls that most often lead to broken bones. Each yoga pose targets specific muscles and strengthens them, leading to better body balance. The increased balance, strength training, and bone-building exercises in yoga are the most beneficial for your health and the treatment of osteoporosis. The benefits are there, but one must seek the guidance of a yoga therapist or a certified yoga instructor with a successful track record in working with seniors and osteoporosis.
Recommended Yoga Styles
There are many different types of yoga, and each type has its own unique benefits. However, not all types of yoga are equally beneficial for osteoporosis patients. Some types of yoga are better suited for building bone density and improving balance, while others are more effective for relieving pain and improving flexibility. The best types of yoga for osteoporosis patients are those that focus on building bone density and improving balance. Classes like Restorative, Gentle, Yin and Therapeutic are worth inquiring about.
What to Expect
These types of yoga typically involve slow, deliberate movements and emphasize correct alignment. They may also include moderate weight-bearing poses, such as modified Downward-Facing Dog with a chair, that help to build bone mass. Yoga classes that focus on relaxation and gentle stretches are also beneficial for osteoporosis patients. These classes can help to relieve pain and improve flexibility. However, they are not as effective as the bone-building yoga classes in terms of building bone density or improving balance.
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