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How Much Bone Is In Your Bank?

How much bone matter do you have in your bank? This may seem like an unusual question, but it is one major factor in whether or not you may have osteoporosis. Our bones are always replenishing themselves, and when we are young, our bone matter can replace itself at an equal or faster rate than the rate at which it degenerates. As we age, our bones can’t always keep up! This process reaches its peak when we are about twenty years old, so the more bone matter we have “banked” by this point, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis. However, there are many other factors that could also lead to osteoporosis.

Although people of all races and sexes can be affected by osteoporosis, some of the biggest risk factors include being a white or Asian female, particularly after menopause. This is because a decrease in sex hormones can weaken bones, and this fact applies to men as well. Other risk factors include aging, low body weight, lack of calcium and vitamin D, a sedentary lifestyle and other lifestyle choices like smoking. How do you know if you have osteoporosis? As you age, you may experience a loss of height or develop a stooped over posture. You may experience severe bone pain, breaks and fractures, particularly in the spine, wrists, or hips. This can occur not only more frequently, but much more easily than when you were younger because osteoporosis greatly thins and weakens our bones. As a result, even light exercise, bending over or coughing could cause pain and injury.

However, physical activity is not counterproductive in treating osteoporosis as many people believe. It is actually important to keep active to keep your bones strong. Physical therapy and physical activity greatly benefit osteoporosis patients by helping them to improve their posture, flexibility and coordination so that they may re-strengthen bones and prevent injuries from things like minor falls and daily activities. Weight bearing exercises (meaning exercises you do with weight through extremities, such as your legs and arms) are most important. Cardiovascular activity such as walking, jogging and dancing are better than swimming and biking. These are simple and effective ways to retrain your bones to work with gravity to bear your weight and improve your posture while upright. Other simple exercises include squats, bridges and stomping…yes, stomping on one foot a few times a day! Weightlifting 3 times per week is another way to strengthen your bones by training them to work effectively against gravity from a sitting or lying position. Avoid exercises that flex the spine too much, as this can create fractures. It is important to consult a professional before jumping right into an exercise program! A Rebalance therapist will use a hands-on approach to assess your whole body and individual risk factors before working with you to create a treatment and exercise plan that works best for you as well as recommend any necessary lifestyle changes.

Do you have achy or brittle bones? Contact Rebalance physical therapists to learn how to overcome osteoporosis and start walking tall again!

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