Busting the myth of Osteoporosis – Physiotherapy can help more than you think.

Osteoporosis –what does it mean?

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone density, due to a depletion of minerals like Calcium. This results in the bones in your body being more brittle and more prone to fractures, even with minor bumps or falls.

How would I know if I have Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is very common: it has been found to affect over 1 million Australians! 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 years old are affected and will suffer an osteoporotic fracture (International Osteoporosis Foundation).

Check your risk factors:

  • Age: > 50 years old.
  • Gender: Females at greater risks due to hormonal changes through life.
  • Family history: Genetic predisposition.
  • Calcium intake: low calcium results in lower bone density.
  • Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D helps absorb Calcium and can also have an effect on bone density.
  • Medical history: corticosteroid medication side effects can include low bone density, digestive malabsorption disorders and chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis chronic kidney/liver disease can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Lifestyle factors and exercise history: low levels of physical activity or low osteogenic exercise levels result in low bone density. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and being overweight have also been shown to increase risks of osteoporosis.

There usually are no symptoms until a fracture occurs, so having regular bone scans past the age of 50 is recommended, in consultation with your GP (Osteoporosis Australia).

What type of exercise should I do if I have Osteoporosis? – Osteogenic Exercises

Osteogenic (bone forming) exercises – quite surprisingly, they are actually impact-based exercise training. Unlike the common belief that patients with osteoporosis should stay away from any impact to protect their bones, controlled impact training actually provides an appropriate stimulus of ground reaction force to help stimulate and promote stronger bone density.

This contradicts the commonly thought myth of having to avoid activities like jumping, running or any other impact type of activities when one has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Playing basketball or netball is more osteogenic than swimming or cycling –because the body has to adapt to the jumping and impact landing involved in basketball and netball.In other word, our bone production centers react to the specific type of exercise we perform (stimulus) and adapt to the amount of force our body is exposed to.

Thats where your Physiotherapist can help!

Physiotherapists are experts in exercise rehabilitation and will help tailor an exercise program that will match your physical levels and start some impact and resistance training in a safe way for you to slowly and gradually build up your bone density and lean muscle mass.

Introducing: the “Better Bones Program” (STARTING EARLY MARCH)

– Based on the research study LIFTMOR from Griffith University, in Queensland, published in 2017: “High-Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women With Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: The LIFTMOR Randomized Controlled Trial”.

The LIFTMOR study compared a control group, who performed home-based exercises focused on prevention of falls, to a High Intensity Resistance and Impact Training (HIRIT) group, who performed twice weekly physiotherapist-supervised exercise classes for a period of 8 months.

It was found that the HIRIT group had significant improvements at multiple levels compared to the control group at follow-up.

Benefits shown from the LIFTMOR study:

  • Increased bone mineral density, measured at the femoral neck and lumbar spine
  • Improvement in height (reduction in thoracic kyphosis)
  • Increased back extensor strength which has been associated with a reduced risk of vertebral fractures
  • Improved general function

Here at Clifton Hill Physiotherapy, we have applied this evidence into clinical practice and we are excited to announce the launching our Better Bones classes!

Brief overview of the class:

  • Targeted for anyone 55 years of age and above
  • Involves 4 key exercises based on the LIFTMOR study:

1. Deadlifts

2. Overhead press

3. back squats

4. jumping chin-ups with drop landings.

The other exercises will aim at improving balance and core strength, arm and leg strength to achieve better function.

  • Performed ideally x2/week as per research recommendations

You will first have an individual consult with one of our Physiotherapists to determine your base starting level of fitness and physical capacity to ensure that the exercise and weights you will use are appropriate and safe. The Physiotherapist will also introduce you to the 4 key exercise components and familiarize yourself to the gym prior to joining classes.

Contact our physiotherapists to enquire for more information and for class registrations.

References:

Websites

https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics

https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/estimating-the-prevalence-of-osteoporosis-in-austr/contents/summary

Watson, S. L., Weeks, B. K., Weis, L. J., Harding, A. T., Horan, S. A. and Beck, B. R. (2018), High‐Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women With Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: The LIFTMOR Randomized Controlled Trial. J Bone Miner Res, 33: 211-220. doi:10.1002/jbmr.3284