I treat such a wide variety of clients in Devon and Cornwall that I need to be flexible in my recommendations for activity and exercise.
My 90 year old patients and very overweight patients are not going to be capable of the same level of activity as say, me! I also feel in a bit of a quandary because conventional wisdom is that we need to undertake some kind of weight bearing impact activity such as running or aerobics in order to stimulate new bone matrix. However, we're also told that such impact can be harmful to the joints.
What to do?
As much as I feel yoga is beneficial in many different ways, I've been wondering recently if it can really help combat osteoperosis. After all, it's very gentle and although it's weightnpbearing, it's not putting much stress through the bones in order to aid remodelling.
So I decided to see if any research had been done and whether I could recommend it for patients at risk of or diagnosed with osteoporosis. Yes I can! Great news.
In addition to providing stress reduction and a mild workout, yoga can also be an effective treatment for osteoporosis, either on its own or supplemented by other treatments. Research has shown that yoga can prevent or slow -- and in some cases even reverse -- the process of bone loss.
Osteoporosis -- a disease characterized by weak, thinning bones that can lead to fractures -- affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide, and one in three women over 50 experience osteoporotic fractures. Classic risk factors for osteoporosis include being female, age, low body weight and smoking.
"I know [yoga] can help because I've done the studies," medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine Dr. Loren Fishman, who has done extensive research on yoga and osteoporosis, told Huff/Post50. Commenting on a pilot study involving individuals with an average age of 68, he said, "We did a bone mineral density (DEXA) scan, then we taught half of them the yoga, waited two years, and did another scan. And not only did these people not lose bone, they gained bone. The ones who didn't do the yoga lost a little bone, as you would expect."
Evidence in the animal literature confirms that unconventional tugs of the sinews and ligaments can not only arrest, but reverse osteoporosis. The pilot study detailed below corroborates these findings (but it only compared 12 yoga-practising individuals with 7 non-yoga-practising individuals).
Fishman added that practicing yoga did not cause any serious injuries or fractures in the subjects of his research. "It seems to be safe and effective," he says.
If you're looking to promote good bone health and ward off osteoporosis, try taking up a therapeutic yoga practice. Click through the slideshow below for eight yoga poses recommended for good bone health.