Great questions! This is a topic near to me as I'm certified in Pilates, many forms of fitness, and just 18 hours away from my 200-hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) credential. I've worked with a client in Pilates for 3+ years who has osteoporosis, and interestingly, didn't learn much about what was safe or not safe for anyone with osteoporosis until I was deep in my four years of Pilates teacher training.
Anyone with osteoporosis should avoid A LOT of spinal movements, which is surprising because they are common in yoga and Pilates (and everyday life). The spinal movements to avoid are:
-Spinal flexion: That means any "rounding' of the spine, such as rounding forward to touch your toes, or even doing crunches.
-Spinal rotation: That means no twisting from the waist, so no seated or standing twists in yoga or Pilates movements such as criss-cross.
- Lateral spinal flexion: This is doing something like reverse warrior in yoga or any movement where you bring one arm/shoulder closer to your hip in a "side bending" fashion.
That's just the tip of the iceberg really. These are common movements in everyday life, not just in fitness classes. But all of them have been shown to cause problems and break down already brittle spinal bones. The key is to work in "neutral" spine at all times, so, your back "flat" or with its neutral curvature. That does mean avoiding certain common exercises and movements, but really, it means adapting.
One can do something like a "forward bend" safely without ever flexing the spine. And honestly, that's how everyone should do it anyway b/c it's safer for the back for numerous reasons. So you'd hip hinge forward, only going as far as you can with a long spine and without rounding the spine.
These movements and adaptations are, sadly, not widely known or instructed in many fitness trainings. Do not be surprised if you go to a yoga studio and the instructor knows nothing about what is safe for osteoporosis. It can make it very difficult to attend group classes if you don't know what to avoid or how to modify. But it's not impossible--it'll just take a lot of self-education. Perhaps even some one-on-one training with a physical therapist or a credentialed trainer/instructor who understands this specialty. But once you get it down, it becomes pretty easy to integrate into your daily life.
What is safe? Spinal extension: Think lying on your belly and lifting your chest. So things like cobra, upward dog, locust in yoga are a safe spinal movement for osteoporosis. Anything standing upright is safe (don't twist, don't round forward on any hamstring stretches).
I hope you find this helpful. If you search online for more info on these specific movement patterns and other keywords, I'm sure you'll find more good info on what's safe, what to avoid, etc.
*I am not aware of any research saying that these movements lead to or cause osteoporosis--they are generally unsafe for already porous bones.
Edited by: COACH_NICOLE at: 11/8/2013 (16:05)
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