Will I lose strength? Do I have to give up the workouts I love? This may not be an initial reaction, but many women who come to me for help after an osteoporosis diagnosis are feeling a loss of control.
Find Your Power
The first step is to get educated on the guidelines, what to avoid – how to do no harm. It’s important to know that flexion (forward bending) and rotation place too much stress on spinal vertebrae and strengthening balance can help prevent a fall that could lead to a broken hip. This is vital information for your arsenal, but knowing the contraindications can also give rise to fear of injury – and fear of moving. This stress can disrupt the relationship you’ve had with your body. You may depend on certain exercises that have worked in the past. How are you going to find your strength, or your calm, if you have to give them up now?
Your body wants to be continually challenged and this is another opportunity to take charge of that. Movement modifications need not make a workout easier or less intense and finding how to do that is a creative process. Emotions affect motion, so embracing the challenge with an open mind and heart helps your body follow suit.
If you love Pilates, you can still do Pilates.
People may say, “Give up Pilates, it has too much flexion”. Everything in a Pilates class can be modified appropriately in ways that can even deepen the work. For every flexion move there is an equally challenging one that can be done in neutral or extension, and rotational muscles can be strengthened without rotating the spine.
Patience, Patience, Patience
Building bone is not a short term pursuit and it may be frustrating to know if you’re actually making progress. You adapt your workout, even enjoy it – and then the next bone scan comes back with seemingly no change or slight degradation, now what?
Medical research shows it can take years for bone density improvements to appear. According to the NIH, most of our skeleton is replaced every ten years, during which there is continuous opportunity for new bone.
Felicia Cosman, M.D., Editor in Chief, National Osteoporosis Foundation’s Osteoporosis International says, “You may not see results on a bone density test immediately… That is not realistic. You’re helping to prevent bone loss, and the changes may be relatively small per year. But if you persist with weight training, even a 1% change every year adds up to a 10% change after ten years… That is a lot of bone.”
Once you learn to modify for safe and effective movement, you can take control of your health and wellbeing. Feeling your power will help exercise effectiveness, because your body, including your bones responds to what you expect of it. (For more on that click here: Your Body is Listening! A Pathway for Releasing Chronic Conditions ) Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.