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Osteoporosis is a silent bone disease. Osteoporosis is often only diagnosed after a bone fracture or break has occurred. With osteoporosis, it can alter the structure of the bone causing weakness and an increased risk of a fracture. Bones are living tissues that are constantly being removed and rebuilt. As we get older we naturally lose more bone than we rebuild, however with osteoporosis this is more pronounced. To keep bones healthy many factors are important: normal sex hormones; vitamin D; calcium; adequate calorie intake; proteins; weight bearing and strengthening exercises.
To clarify, osteopenia is the early stage of osteoporosis. Above all, having osteopenia places a person at risk of developing osteoporosis. However, receiving a diagnosis of osteopenia is a warning that you must start taking care of your bone health and preventative measures need to be put in place.
Is it highly recommended that you seek advice from a chartered physiotherapist before commencing regular exercise with a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis. For instance, a physiotherapist can assess what exercises are appropriate and safe for you to do, and advise on exercises to avoid. There are many factors that influence the exercises that you should be doing, these include: risk of fracture; age; past medical history and your DXA scan results.
Exercise is only beneficial to osteoporosis, if you exercise regularly. Little and often is usually the best strategy. Participating in regular exercise must be a permanent lifestyle choice because if you stop, it’s beneficial effects gradually wear off. Bones take several months to adapt to an increase in use unlike muscles which adapt much more quickly with several weeks.
The Irish Osteoporosis Society recommends 30 minutes of weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercises per day, not only for your bone health but also your overall health. This can be broken up in 3-5 minutes at a time, 3 sets of 10 minutes or 30 minutes of continuous exercise. For example, weight bearing exercises include: walking; jogging; dancing; climbing the stairs; tennis; football and basketball. Intermittent jogging is a great for people who find jogging/running too difficult. Walk for a few minutes then jog for 30-60 seconds. To sum up, this will help increase done density in the spine and lower limbs.
If you have sustained a fracture due to a fall, then ask your physiotherapist on what steps to take to reduce your risk of further falls and potential fractures.
A great resource for anyone diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or family and friends is the Irish Osteoporosis Society. Follow this link to go to their very informative website http://www.irishosteoporosis.ie/
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic we have an exercise class that promotes bone health. Please contact the clinic today if you have any enquiries about regarding bone health, our bone density class or have been diagnosed with it.