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Feel it in your bones

Wellbeing

Feel it in your bones

Fragile, porous bones are a common problem as we age. TRISTAN HALL explains the dangers and offers ways to improve the chances of avoiding a fracture.

About half of all women over the age of 60 will have at least one fracture due to osteoporosis. Men also experience bone density loss and by the time they are 70, may have the same bone loss as women and be equally susceptible to hip and spinal fractures.

So what can you do about it? Many risk factors such as age are a given. There are others that can be addressed.

If you are inactive, smoke or drink alcohol excessively you are at a higher risk. Some medications also put you at risk. Prednisolone can cause bone loss.

Sara Meeks, an American physical therapist, has developed an evidence-based program to help people with osteoporosis and osteopenia build stronger and better aligned bones. She is the author of the book Walk Tall! A Program for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis.

According to Meeks, It doesn’t take long for bone mass to deteriorate. In just one week of bed rest a senior citizen loses bone mass.

Meeks also states that one fracture is a strong predictor for another fracture.

The good news is you can increase your bone density and strengthen the muscles that support your bone structures with some regular attention.

Here are a few ideas to get started.

Tip 1 – Keep your spine straight in everyday activities. Instead of leaning over the bathroom sink to brush your teeth, bend your knees.

To check if your spine is straight, imagine a 1-metre ruler placed along your back. It should touch your back at the base, the middle and the top. Be aware of how you bend to open cupboards, weed the garden and so on. Use stools to sit on or bend those knees rather than curving your spine.

Tip 2 – To strengthen your bones, you need to give your body different challenges. For instance when you go walking, vary the surfaces you walk on. Try walking on the grass or on the sand. Go for a short bush walk where you have to step in unexpected ways. Your body will reap the benefits.

Tip 3 – Weight-bearing activities will build bone strength. Get started with kitchen bench or wall push-ups. As you get stronger, move to a lower surface or add repetitions. Stand on one leg for 20 seconds. Walk heel to toe across your lounge room. Climbing the stairs is another useful and safe weight-bearing activity.

 Tristan Hall is an exercise physiologist with Full Circle Wellness. Call 0431 192 284 or visit fullcirclewellness.com.au

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