Prevent Osteoporosis with Aligned PostureJul 16, 2014
I'm worried about osteoporosis, as are many of my clients. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones, which increases the likelihood of fractures and can lead to disability and death. The diagnosis of osteopenia also denotes decreased bone mass and is a precursor to osteoporosis. Similar to high blood pressure, osteoporosis is a silent disease. You can have it for many years without knowing because there are no symptoms. The body doesn't warn you of the internal decline of your bones. Often the first sign of the disease is a bone fracture. And not all fractures are from a fall. Breaks can happen at any time due to bone weakness. Scary.
Men are not immune to osteoporosis! Although it is often considered a woman's disease, as our lifespans increase, so does the incidence of men with osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides some grim facts and statistics about men and osteoporosis:
- Men older than 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer.
- Men are more likely than women to die within a year after breaking a hip. This is due to problems related to the break.
- Approximately two million American men already have osteoporosis. About 12 million more are at risk.
The risk factors for osteoporosis are the same for men and women. I have nearly all of the uncontrollable risk factors for osteoporosis being an aging, small framed, Caucasian female with a family history of the disease. And my risk will go up when I hit menopause and my estrogen levels drop. Fortunately, I don't have Thyroid or gland issues, don't take steroid medications and have never broken a bone. All of these are also risk factors for osteoporosis.
As far as the controllable or lifestyle risk factors for osteoporosis, I am doing well. My diet is high in calcium with lots of fruits and veggies and moderate amounts of protein, sodium, caffeine and alcohol. I am also physically active, don't smoke, maintain a healthy weight and have aligned posture.
Is misaligned posture a risk factor for osteoporosis?
Not officially, but it is in my opinion. Your bones are stimulated to strengthen through movement. So, you should do weight-bearing exercise to build bone. Researchers determined this when they studied astronauts. Living in a gravity-free environment, astronauts lost bone at an accelerated pace. Bone density declined at a rate 12 to 24% faster than that of normal aging while in space. Studies have also found that weight-bearing athletes who stress their bones with numerous powerful jumps and heavy weights such as basketball players, bodybuilders and gymnasts had bone densities 30% higher than non-active controls (Fehling et al. 1995).
So, exercising in gravity is essential to strengthen your bones. But what if your skeleton is not straight? If you are not in vertical alignment, the constant pull of gravity will be sent through your soft tissue instead of through your bones. This will over stress your muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia, which can cause strain, breakdown and pain in the body. If, however, you are lined up against gravity, the downward force will be transmitted through your bones and they will be stimulated to grow stronger. The bottom line: if you are not aligned when you move, your bones will not receive the needed stimulus to build and, instead, will decay.
How can you take advantage of gravitational force to build your bones?
By aligning your posture! If your bones are vertically stacked one atop another when you sit, stand and move, you will be enhancing your bone density all day long. How cool is that? Watch for my next blog, which will feature posture exercises for enhancing alignment to build bone density.
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