Benefits of Pilates for Osteopenia and Osteoporosis

 

As people age, they are more prone to being affected by osteoporosis, a disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle. While it is often considered a woman’s disease, it afflicts men as well. It is estimated that 44 million American men and women currently have either osteoporosis or osteopenia, a thinning of the bone mass that is a precursor to the disease. Research has proven that exercise is effective in preventing and reversing the effects of osteoporosis. Pilates is a form of strengthening exercises that can help to prevent the disease and, when used with modifications and precautions, may reverse some of the effects of osteoporosis.

Practicing Pilates to Prevent Osteoporosis

Physical exercise is an important step in the prevention of osteoporosis. Even better are those exercises that improve muscle strength and balance, as maintaining muscle protects the bones and improving balance prevents falls. Pilates does both of these things, and so it is a good option for an aging person at risk for developing osteoporosis. Pilates also promotes muscle symmetry, helping to balance out the body. The development of a strong core and pelvis reinforces good posture and can decrease the odds of falling.

A healthy person should be able to perform most or all of the Pilates exercises. Many exercises can be modified to be safer for a person with a physical condition such as back pain or stiffness in the knees. Regular Pilates exercises can help to prevent osteoporosis and a number of other physical injuries.

Practicing Pilates with Osteoporosis

A person with osteoporosis can also practice Pilates; however, that person should take extreme caution when doing so and modify some of the exercises. While the Pilates method strengthens core muscles and puts the body into alignment, many of the exercises might cause damage to fragile bones. People with osteoporosis should avoid exercises that call for rolling on the spine or rotating the spine and extension of the neck. Pressure should also not be placed on fragile wrists.

Safe Pilates Mat Exercises (Modified Versions)

  • Hundreds (with head down)
  • Single Leg Circles
  • Single Leg Stretch (with head down)
  • Double Leg Stretch (with head down)
  • Swan-Dive (one only)
  • Shoulder Bridge (not too high)
  • Side Kick
  • Push-up

Unsafe Pilates Mat Exercises (Do Not Attempt)

  • Roll-up
  • Spine Stretch
  • Neck Pull
  • Scissors
  • Spine Twist
  • Saw
  • Rocking
  • Control Balance

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a method of strength-training exercise developed in the early 1920s by Joseph Pilates to help rehabilitate wounded prisoners of World War I. It is now a popular form of exercise used by a wide range of people, including dancers, senior citizens, athletes, and patients in physical rehabilitation programs.

Pilates focuses on building a strong “core.” The core muscles targeted through the exercise movements are the deep muscles of the back and abdomen. By building strength through these muscles, a balanced control of the body is developed. When the core muscles are developed sufficiently, they work in cooperation with the other superficial muscles of the body to support the spine.

Pilates uses the resistance of gravity and body weight to strengthen the core. The exercises are usually done on a mat on the floor, but can also be done on complex equipment developed by Joseph Pilates. The method focuses on quality of movement rather than quantity of repetitions.

The theory of Pilates exercises focuses on six principles to increase coordination and balance and strengthen the muscles that support the skeleton.

These six principles are:

  • Centering
  • Control
  • Flow
  • Breath
  • Precision
  • Concentration

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones.” Although osteoporosis and osteopenia, an early form of osteoporosis, can affect people of any age, it is most prevalent in people aged 50 and older. Osteoporosis is not necessarily a natural progression of growing older. It is a systemic skeletal disease that causes bones to slowly lose their density and mass—their supporting structure. This often happens with no symptoms until significant deterioration has taken place. As osteoporosis progresses, the bones become weak and are vulnerable to breaking. When the bones become too fragile they can break under the stress of performing ordinary tasks such as lifting a light object, coughing, bending over, losing balance, or simply standing.

Fractures are the most common complications of osteoporosis. The disease most severely attacks the hips and spine, causing them to become too weak to bear weight, but it can also cause damage to all bones in the body, including the jawbone and wrist. The loss of bone density makes people prone to stress fractures and compression fractures that can cause loss of mobility, stooped posture, disability, and even death (from complications of surgery to repair the breakage).

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and osteopenia often have no outward symptoms until damage has already been done to the bones. The disease can be diagnosed by having a bone scan performed by a physician.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis include:

  • Back pain
  • Loss of height over time
  • Stooped posture
  • Fracture of the hip, wrist, vertebrae, jaw, or other bones

 

golf

Pilates for Golf

Hit the ball farther, straighter and more accurately with less chance of injury…

Whether twisting the body on a drive, squatting down to measure a putt or leaning over to pick up a ball, golfers constantly torquing their bodies. Golf also requires repeating the same essential movements. As a result some muscles become overused and others weaken, causing an imbalance.

For a golfer, muscle imbalances can affect the legs, hips, arms, shoulders, and the lower back. It can also affect your game, particularly for those over the age of 50. Your drives may be shorter and less accurate, your stamina may decrease, and the potential for debilitating strains, pulls and tears becomes much higher.

Many golfers – from weekend warriors to the game’s elite like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam – are now turning to Pilates as an essential training tool that keeps the body in balance and actually improves performance.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is based on movement from the center of the body, as are most shots in golf. It strengthens the center of the body, also known as the core (the trunk, shoulder girdles and pelvis). Core strength can improve hip rotation, range of motion in the shoulders and back stability leading to more powerful and accurate golf shots. It is also a full body exercise that works all muscles and is easy on the joints. The end result is a flexible, symmetrically muscled body that is strengthened from the inside out.

Pilates helps you:

  • Build up the back muscles evenly
  • Elongate and align the spine for better stability
  • Strengthen the abdominals
  • Increase overall flexibility, strength, and balance
  • Increase range of motion in hips and shoulders
  • Enhance concentration through focused breathing

Performance Benefits

 A stronger and more stable core helps golfers:

  • Attain an optimal backswing and follow-through with increased range of motion in shoulders
  • Get more distance and power because of added hip and torso flexibility
  • Have a stronger and bigger hip turn for greater power through rotation
  • Create a smoother and more powerful swing due to evenly conditioned back muscles
  • Maximize balance and alignment while rotating
  • Decrease fatigue because of less strain on the body
  • Hold a body position long enough to play through a shot
  • Play without pain!
scale

DROP Pounds

Moderately active women typically need a ballpark of 1800-2200 calories a day to maintain their weight. To DROP pounds, you’ll need to shave anywhere from 250-500 calories a day from that total. So keep this in mind when you are having your post-workout meal/snack.
ss_best-bars

Choose the Perfect Snack Bar

I am frequently asked about how to choose a snack bar. For me I only choose items in which I can recognize and at the very least can pronounce the ingredients. For example lets look at the difference between Special K™ Chocolate Delight Protein Snack Bars versus Lara Apple Pie.

Special K™ Chocolate Delight Protein Snack Bars

Calories: 110
Fat: 3 grams
Sugar: 11 grams
Protein: 4 grams

Ingredients:

COATING (SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL?, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, WHEY, NONFAT DRY MILK, SOY LECITHIN, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, SALT, POLYSORBATE 60, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), CORN SYRUP, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, FRUCTOSE, SUGAR, RICE FLOUR, SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER), TOFFEE BITS (SUGAR, BUTTER [CREAM, SALT], CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, MALT EXTRACT, SALT, RICE BRAN], CORN SYRUP, SWEETENED CONDENSED SKIM MILK [SUGAR, SKIM MILK], SALT), SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF INULIN, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, NONFAT DRY MILK, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SALT, GELATIN, GLYCERIN, MALT EXTRACT, SODIUM ASCORBATE (VITAMIN C), VITAMIN E ACETATE, SOY LECITHIN, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, NIACINAMIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), ALMOND FLOUR, PARTIALLY DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR, WHEAT STARCH, VITAMIN B12.

Lara Apple Bar

Calories: 190
Fat: 10 grams
Sugar: 18 grams
Protein: 4 grams

Ingredients:

DATES, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED APPLES, WALNUTS, RAISINS, CINNAMON

Just by looking at the numbers you would think that the Special K has less calories and less grams of sugar…therefore the better choice would be the Special K bar, right? But look at all of those ingredients! One huge red flag is corn syrup. Corn Syrup is an artificial sweetener that offers the same taste as sugar. All sugars are not created equal. There are natural sugars in fruits and our bodies were designed to breakdown these natural sugars within 24 hrs. It can take up to four days to breakdown artificial sugar! Look at the ingredients in the Lara bar. You know all of these ingredients, they are natural to the earth! It is a few more calories but it is okay because your body knows how to use these ingredients and how to break them down. Lara bar wins!