As Pilates instructors it can be daunting to work with a client suffering from Osteoporosis or Osteopenia especially in a group setting. With 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 at risk from an osteoporotic fracture in the UK1, we need to carefully consider the exercises and modifications we teach. The main contraindication is spinal flexion due to the high concentration of trabecular bone (honeycomb like) in the bodies of the vertebrae and with over 75% of the Mat repertoire performed in flexion, we can sometimes feel very restricted and apprehensive about what we teach.
One of the main goals of the Pilates for Bone Health workshop was to put a positive spin on working with clients suffering or at risk from Osteoporosis, to focus on what can be added to sessions rather than what needs to be omitted and to encourage bone health throughout our classes.
Every time we exercise muscles, tendons and ligaments are pulling on the bones and the bone responds, stimulating bone formation and retention of calcium at the sites bearing the load. So in our sessions we need to promote,
- Weight bearing exercises- standing, on all fours
- Resistance- using bands, Pilates circles, weighted balls
Pilates is an excellent exercise system for those with Osteoporosis or low bone mass so keep your sessions bone healthy by following these 8 steps:
- Emphasise alignment throughout the sessions
- Focus on strengthening the back extensors and scapula stabilisers
- Promote dynamic stability
- Encourage spinal extension especially thoracic
- Strengthen site-specific areas- hips, spine, wrist
- Enhance joint mobility
- Challenge dynamic balance
- Include weight bearing exercises.
As always I would love your questions or comments.
1. Van Staa et al, 2001