Osteoporosis is a serious condition in which the bones are weak and brittle. People with osteoporosis are at risk of bone fracture. Women are especially susceptible to osteoporosis after menopause. Weight-bearing exercises can help prevent or alleviate osteoporosis by strengthening your bones. Exercises can help improve balance to reduce the risk of falls and bone fractures. Some exercises, however, including certain yoga poses, are contraindicated for people who have osteoporosis. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Yoga Poses to Avoid
Yoga offers many health benefits, especially improved flexibility and better balance. However, some yoga poses may increase the risk of bone fracture for people suffering from osteoporosis. Yoga poses that twist and flex the spine are not recommended if you have weak, brittle bones. Specific poses that are not recommended include Uttanasana, or the Forward-bending pose, and the Quadruped Cat and Cow poses. The Camel, Bow and Upward-facing Bow poses are not recommended because they require a deep back curve, which can cause pain or injury. All poses that require flexing the spinal column are not recommended, including the Knees-to-Chest pose.
Recommended Yoga Poses
Slow, methodical yoga stretching and standing exercises improve flexibility and aid in building bone strength. Postures, such as the hero, Adept's pose, Wide Angle and Bound Angle poses, are good for the hip joints. Standing yoga poses place weight on your leg and hip bones to help improve bone density. The wide-legged standing forward bend is a weight-bearing exercise that uses gravity and your own body weight to strengthen the legs, feet, arms, hands and wrists. Yoga balance exercises, such as the Mountain pose, can improve your balance to reduce the risk of falls, which can result in a bone fracture.
Osteoporosis is difficult to reverse, but diet, exercise and sometimes medication can help to strengthen bones and reverse bone loss. Doing yoga can help to prevent osteoporosis by keeping the bones strong. Hatha yoga poses help prevent osteoporosis because the poses place weight on the joints and bones. You will strengthen the bones in your back, leg and arm joints when doing Hatha yoga poses, such as the Pelvic Floor Tilt, the Crane and the Tabletop.
General Exercises to Avoid
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you should avoid all high-impact exercises, such as running, jogging, jumping rope and high-impact aerobics. Avoid rapid, jerking movements and twisting your spine. Forward bends can also result in spinal fractures, so avoid bending to touch your toes and sit-ups or pushups. Sports exercises, including tennis and golf, that require you to make sudden changes in direction and twisting motions can also cause compression fractures in people who have osteoporosis.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.