Dem Bones, Dem Bones

Recently, Kim Thompson (Personal trainer, Vitality Source Fitness; Education chair, Hamilton-Burlington Chapter Osteoporosis Canada) presented a workshop to YWCA Hamilton’s Bones Plus class, offering practical advice on fracture prevention and exercise. For those unable to attend, here’s a quick rundown of some of Kim’s recommendations:

Balance training is essential for preventing falls, and therefore fractures. Being able to stand on one foot for one minute is a good starting place.

Maintaining good posture is important for reducing vertebral fractures. Your mother was right: ‘Don’t slouch!’ It puts ten times more pressure on the front side of the vertebrae than erect posture does. When rising from a chair, avoid bending forward and dipping your head. Instead, keep erect and push up with your legs, not your arms. Bear in mind that an hour of good posture in exercise class will not counteract poor posture the rest of the day.

Rotation in a forward position is also very risky for the spine: have your feet and body in the same direction rather than twisting and reaching, for instance when picking something up from the floor.

Some activities of daily living (ADLs), such as vacuuming or bed-making, can be dangerous for people with a high risk of spinal fracture. Be careful to keep upright, dropping onto one knee to get low instead of bending over – or delegate those jobs.

Kim suggests doing balance and posture work every day; strength training under supervision 2 to 3 times a week; and weight bearing activities (walking, aerobics, dancing etc.) 3 to 4 times a week, for at least 45 minutes. Whereas for the general population that 45 minutes can be broken down into smaller chunks of time to be more manageable, for bone building, a sustained 45-minute session is needed to stimulate bone growth.

Certain exercises are contraindicated as well, i.e. deep twists in yoga, forward bends in Pilates, or curl-ups/crunches for ab work. If in doubt, be safe and ask your instructor for alternative moves.

Thanks, Kim, for an enjoyable and informative session!

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