19/07/15 09:44 Filed in: Advice
Stronger bones - the natural way
According to Age UK almost three million people in the UK have osteoporosis - a condition that makes bones fragile and liable to break more easily. Many of them don't even know it until they actually have a fracture.
Your bones are alive and in early life - up to say, your mid-20s - they're beavering away, replacing old bone with new bone, to the extent that you get a new skeleton every seven years or so. But by 35ish, this stops happening because the cells that make new bone aren't as vigorous as they used to be and can't keep up with your body's ongoing bone loss.
The standard way to treat osteoporosis is through vitamin supplements and prescription drugs but there are other - more natural ways - you can increase the strength of your bones. (Many doctors and healthcare professionals also recommend load bearing exercises such as walking, running skipping and so on, as the best way to encourage new bone growth; this can also be stimulated exercises such as yoga - which can be surprisingly effective when done correctly.)
- Yoga may look gentle and relaxing (and it is) but inside, it's giving your muscles a really good workout, lengthening them and pulling on the attached bones which in turn is said to stimulate bone growth. Try the Reclining Hand To Big Toe pose or the Downward Facing Dog both of which are excellent posture-opening and gentle weight-bearing exercises. (If you've never done yoga before, I suggest you find a nearby class to get you started rather than trying to teach yourself).
- Pilates is a way of exercising which concentrates on aligning the body correctly and improving the muscles in the trunk and pelvis - often called the 'core muscles' or 'core strength'. because these muscles support your skeletal structure, they can be very helpful for alleviating the effects of osteoporosis. Here's a useful Guide to Pilates
- Massage helps in more roundabout ways by stimulating the blood and lymphatic circulation to remove toxins and waste products from the body more effectively, leaving you with a feeling of well-being; it also releases endorphins which play a crucial role in the body's pain management system. Massage also eases anxiety and helps you to get a better night's sleep.
Of course the best time to do these things is before you have osteoporosis, especially if you are at risk - you have a family history, are under weight, are (or have been) a smoker or have gone through the menopause early. If you have any or all of the above it's best to have a bone density scan. Ask your GP to refer you.
Note: If you have osteoporosis, with any form of exercise or massage, care needs to be taken depending on the severity of the the osteoporosis, please consult your health care provider for advice on whether this is appropriate for you. The more severe the condition, the gentler this needs to be.