Content by: Deanna Niceski - Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Can you hear that? The signs and symptoms your skeletal system of 206 bones shows when its losing minerals more rapidly than they are being replenished? Trick question; you shouldn’t as osteoporosis is known as the ‘silent disease’. Fused together from cartilage in our younger years, our bones change with age, exercise, lifestyle and eating habits. Made up from organic material of collagen protein fibres, calcium and phosphate our bones are constantly going through a process called bone remodelling.
Like the famous 2007 Britney breakdown, osteoclasts, are involved in breaking down and removing old, unneeded and injured bone. They are also responsible for bone resorption after getting rid of damaged cells. Our ‘Bob the Builders’ of bone, osteoblasts, form and build the matrix that make up our bones structure (bone formation). This is the bone remodelling process that naturally occurs in our body. However, structural integrity is compromised, and brittle bones occur when osteoclasts speed up their clearing process while osteoblasts still stay at the same remodelling speed. Essentially our body is removing bone cells faster then they are getting replenished, Hello Osteoporosis.
The stats say it all, 2.2 million Aussies are affected by osteoporosis, a fracture occurs every 2.9 minutes, our bones progressively lose strength over time from the age of 40 onwards and 4.74 million Australians over the age of 50 have poor bone health.
When we talk about bone health, we are referring to the strength of our bones and calcium content, also known as bone mineral density (BMD). With a very expensive X-ray called a DEXA Scan, your BMD can be measured and classified into three categories; normal bone, osteopenia (weaker than normal bone) and osteoporosis (brittle bones).
THE ACTIVE SOLUTION: ‘May the force be with you’
When we move and exercise, we are creating forces through our body that our bones love as it strengthens and protects our joints, as well as, promoting bone growth. They thrive and adapt off varied stimulus so mix up your sessions and get creative.
By providing impact and power through our body, staying active with exercises such as hiking, playing tennis, running and dancing will help with building bone density.
Using the right resistance and establishing a suitable training load is one of the most effective and significant ways to improve BMD. There is sufficient evidence that supports strength training as the best exercises for osteoporosis.
Explosive, powerful exercises that challenge our muscles also have greater improvements in BMD. Movements such as jumping, skipping and hopping activate our elastic properties, test our structural tensegrity and reaction time. Plyometric training can be daunting for some, but it doesn’t have to be that intense, you can start slowly (stepping patterns) and progress. The aim is to progressively overload our skeletal system to see the desired results.
Even though training our proprioception doesn’t have a direct effect on the strength of our bones, finding your balance and incorporating this component into your programs can help to prevent falls which in turn, reduces the risk of fractures.
Luckily, we have amazing bodies that love to heal, restore and repair. So, it’s not too late to turn back time, and to find a way (pause for Cher chorus).
“To thrive in life, you need three bones. A wishbone. A backbone. And a funny bone.” – Reba McEntire