Pilates Exercises for Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis is a metabolic condition affecting the skeleton which causes bones to become both weak and brittle. Managing this condition requires that you keep your body strong and mobile but choosing an exercise routine can be challenging.  Certain movements and motions are considered to put an Osteoporotic person at risk for fractures. At the same time, the body requires weight bearing activities in order to increase bone density and offset the effects of this common condition.

Pilates as a non impact resistance training method can be an ideal and effective exercise routine for those with Osteoporosis.

If you have the opportunity to work one on one with a qualified Pilates professional, I strongly recommend you do so. Group classes are not an appropriate setting for the specific body needs that accompany Osteoporosis. Within a personal training session, your Pilates teacher can identify the ideal movements for you. In a studio setting the options for resistance include the equipment with springs and smaller props. For home workouts, Pilates relies on gravity and body weight to create resistance. Throw in a few small weights and the signature Pilates Magic Circle and you've got a very well rounded routine. Here are some of my go-to choices as homework exercises and advice for my clients with Osteoporosis.

1. Gravity is Your Friend

Resistance means working against something.

Often, gravity is enough pressure for the body to fight against. Lie on your stomach to gently work your upper back muscles with a simple chest lift. Spinal fractures are a reality of Osteoporosis and this gentle but effective exercise can be a game-changer in your spinal alignment and health.

2. Grab a Sandbag

Wrists are a common site of fractures in Osteoporosis.

Building strength in this area without having to bear too much weight is a great strategy. Grab a sandbag or make your own for this terrific exercise to prevent continued weakening of the wrists and forearms.

3. Put Some Magic in It

The Pilates Magic Circle is a terrific tool to take your isometric exercises to the next level. This means you'll get added resistance and just a small amount of motion. Use the Magic Circle for your upper body and lower body strength in standing and seated exercises as well. This is the ideal home Pilates tool for those with Osteoporosis and it even travels well.

4. Push it Up

If the upper body can support it, a good old fashioned Plank is your best friend. You'll strengthen your core, improve alignment and increase weight bearing tolerance and strength. Pilates Push Ups and the Long Stretch are ideal for all these reasons and should be done daily for best results. If you can only fit one or two moves, be sure to include this one on your "must-do" list.

5. Squat it Out

The hips are another site of common fractures when bone density is low. The Pilates Standing Footwork allows for controlled squatting with good alignment. The result is stronger legs, hips and rear-ends along with a positive impact on your bone density.

Standing exercises like this one are key to improving overall strength in Osteoporosis.

6. Stretch it Out

Muscles can contract a few different ways. Concentric exercises allow muscles to contract while shortening. This Thigh Stretch move allows the muscles to contract while lengthening, known as an eccentric exercise. Eccentric exercises are known to be an effective strength building strategy. 

Osteoporosis has to be managed carefully. Pilates is a valuable tool and a safe choice for many with this condition.

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