(by Elena R. Romero)
As part of the World Osteoporosis Day (October 20th), let us have a look at Osteoporosis and Yoga.
Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break - even as a result of a minor fall, a bump, a sneeze, or a sudden movement. Osteoporosis develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break. The early stage of Osteoporosis is referred to as Osteopenia (http://worldosteoporosis.org).
Common recommendations in managing Osteoporosis have been published in different clinical guidelines and studies (Compston et al. 2017, Farrah et al. 2020). These include adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, increasing physical activity, a strategy of avoiding falls, cessation of smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol intake in all age groups.
Numerous studies sustain that exercise therapy is a part of the comprehensive management of patients with Osteoporosis and has been associated with improvement of quality of life and lowered risk of future fracture. Research on how to better manage Osteoporosis points that a spinal extensor strengthening program is of key importance. Addressing falls and fractures, the program should also include balance and lower extremity strength training (Sinaki et al. 2012, Caputo et al. 2014, Moreira et al. 2014)
Yoga and Osteoporosis
Yoga has gained widespread popularity due to its physical and psychological benefits. Thousands of students and practitioners across the globe report the impact of yoga on their life; strength, reduction of chronic pain, better management of anxiety and depression, improved spinal mobility and general flexibility, better able to handle stressful situations, better sleep quality, etc.
While Yoga is for 'every-body' this does not mean that 'one size-fits-all', and it requires us to understand that Yoga is far much more than just a physical practice. Breathing exercises, meditation practices, Yoga philosophy, ethical codes of conduct, etc... are other aspects of Yoga that bring immense value to people's lives.
However, if we were to talk about Yoga from the asana (physical poses) perspective for now, it is important to recognize that when practiced in a population at increased fracture risk there is a need for selectivity in yoga poses, as some practices may cause more damage than comfort.
A good Yoga program would need to address flexibility, increase muscle strength, core stability and gait steadiness while having into consideration the contraindications of certain poses/movements. Contraindicated movements include end-range flexion/extension/rotation of the spine and internal/external rotation of the hip. Yoga postures that should be encouraged include postures emphasizing spinal alignment and extension to mid-range in standing and on the floor (McArthur et al. 2016)
Prevention is better than cure
While Yoga might be used as a preventative exercise regime, Osteopenia/Osteoporosis is a disease that needs to be taken seriously and must be treated with expert guidance. If you have been diagnosed with Osteopenia/Osteoporosis talk to your doctor before taking part on any physical exercise.
If you don't know whether you are at risk of Osteopenia/Osteoporosis start by visiting the Irish Osteoporosis Society website where you will find valuable information.
Anyhow, remember that when it comes to your health prevention is better than cure. Yoga can provide a frame of work for you to get stronger, more mobile, improve posture and balance and better your quality of life in general. So, why not try it out today?
Check our Yoga Online schedule without delay. Come and join us.
The following studies have been considered for this article, should you wish to read further into the subject.
Compston J, Cooper A, Cooper C, Gittoes N, Gregson C, Harvey N, Hope S, Kanis JA, McCloskey EV, Poole KES, Reid DM, Selby P, Thompson F, Thurston A, Vine N; National Osteoporosis Guideline Group (NOGG). UK clinical guideline for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Arch Osteoporos. 2017 Dec;12(1):43.
Farrah Z, Jawad AS. Optimising the management of osteoporosis. Clin Med (Lond). 2020 Sep;20(5):e196-e201.
Sinaki M. Exercise for patients with osteoporosis: management of vertebral compression fractures and trunk strengthening for fall prevention. PM R. 2012 Nov;4(11):882-8.
Caputo EL, Costa MZ. Influência do exercício físico na qualidade de vida de mulheres pós-menopáusicas com osteoporose [Influence of physical activity on quality of life in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis]. Rev Bras Reumatol. 2014 Nov-Dec;54(6):467-73. Portuguese.
Moreira LD, Oliveira ML, Lirani-Galvão AP, Marin-Mio RV, Santos RN, Lazaretti-Castro M. Physical exercise and osteoporosis: effects of different types of exercises on bone and physical function of postmenopausal women. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2014 Jul;58(5):514-22.
McArthur C, Laprade J, Giangregorio LM. Suggestions for Adapting Yoga to the Needs of Older Adults with Osteoporosis. J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Mar;22(3):223-6.
Tüzün S, Aktas I, Akarirmak U, Sipahi S, Tüzün F. Yoga might be an alternative training for the quality of life and balance in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2010 Mar;46(1):69-72.