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Pilates for Osteoporosis

October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day, so we want to take a moment to discuss this condition and how Pilates can be of benefit!

Osteoporosis is the presence of low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue, which can lead to an increase in bone fractures. Fractures most commonly occur in the spine, wrists, hips, and shoulders. It is a very common condition, with approximately 50% of women and 25% of men receiving the diagnoses of Osteoporosis or its precursor, Osteopenia, by the age of 50. Pilates is a wonderful exercise modality for folks with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, as it is low-impact and can help increase bone density, which helps prevent further bone mass loss. Pilates builds strength through weight-bearing exercises utilizing the springs on the Reformer, Chair, and Tower and improves core control and posture, which are vital areas of focus for those with this condition. Pilates also helps to improve balance, which decreases the likelihood of falls that could lead to fractures. Practicing Pilates at least 2-3x per week will provide the most optimal results for increasing bone density.

Folks with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis should avoid significant forward flexion, which is common in many traditional Pilates exercises. Working with a “flat back” is a great modification for this condition. For example, hinging instead of rounding back during Short Box Abdominal Series, or leaving your head on the headrest and omitting the chest lift during Arms in Straps. Be sure to let your instructor know if you have this condition at the beginning of class, and they will provide appropriate modifications for you throughout your workout!

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