Yoga For Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis and osteopenia are conditions in which bones become weakened and brittle, increasing risk for fracture. As bones become less dense, less force is needed to cause a fracture, particularly in the spine and hips. Everyone loses bone density as they age and post-menopausal women are more prone to become osteoporotic (but men can have osteoporosis, too). The good news is that weight bearing exercise has been proven to slow bone loss and even help build up healthy bones! Yoga is a form of exercise that improves strength, balance, and flexibility and can help prevent falls and thus prevent fractures. However, in those with osteoporosis, some modifications are needed in order to practice Yoga safely.
People with osteoporosis should avoid deep spinal flexion movements that cause your back to round, such as forward folds, because they place increased stress on the vertebrae that can lead to compression fractures. However, gentle spinal extension movements, such as cobra and locust, are great for strengthening your back muscles and improving posture. Poses that increase your strength and balance, such as Warrior II, Mountain, Tree, and Chair are all recommended for safe yoga practice. Poses that include some weight bearing through the arms, such as plank and tabletop, are good for building bone in the arms and gentle spinal mobility can be performed with cat-cow in these positions as the spine is unloaded. And of course, the breathwork and mindfulness meditation practices of yoga are safe and excellent additions to your wellness practice.
It is important to find a yoga teacher that understands these modifications and how to prevent injuries for people with osteoporosis. At The Studio at Restorative Therapy Co in Virginia Beach, Dr. Becca Ellis teaches therapeutic yoga on Wednesdays at 9:30am and Dr. Tara Pandiscia teaches chair yoga for seniors on Fridays at 10:30am. As Physical Therapists, we are well versed in managing osteoporosis and can help you practice yoga safely. These classes are perfect introductions for those who are new to yoga. Sign up for yoga classes on our new Mindbody app or https://www.thestudiortc.com/class-schedule to start improving your balance, strength, and bone health!
Contributed by Tara Pandiscia, PT, DPT, PYT