By Susan Donald D.C.
Osteoporosis can steal the strength from your bones, leaving you stooped-shouldered and prone to fractures. But you can do something with your muscles to help lower your risk of a break – exercise.
Osteoporosis means “porous bones”. With this disease your bone strength decreases and slowly loses mineral content and their internal support structure. Eventually, your bones can become so weak they can easily fracture. But research indicates that exercise may not only help prevent osteoporosis, but may treat it as well. Exercise can also help improve your balance, reducing your risk of falling. The key is to know which exercises to do and how to do them properly.
Bone is living and dynamic tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Each time you put your bones to work they receive a chemical message telling them they need to be strong. Without physical challenges to trigger that bone building message your bones with lose mass and strength.
Weight bearing and strength training (resistance) exercises put the right kind of demands on your bones to make them build density and strength.
Weight bearing exercises causes your bones and muscles to work against gravity. Every time you take a step, land on your feet, hit a tennis ball, dance, jump, and jog, chemical messages rush to your legs and arms warning them to get ready for the next impact and stimulate your bones to increase their strength.
Weight training or resistance exercises use your muscular strength to improve muscle mass and strengthen bone. Your muscles are attached to your bones by tendons that tug against the bones when the muscle contracts. This tugging stimulates the bones to grow. The stronger your muscles, the more stimulation they provide. The stronger your bones and muscles, the better your protection against osteoporosis.
Strength training exercises can employ dumbbells, and/or weight or resistance type machines. You should begin strength training slowly and progressively, repeating exercises over time until they are comfortable.
Other protective measures to stop osteoporosis are drinking in moderation and avoiding smoking. Smokers show a higher incidence of fracture than non smokers do. Smoking interferes with the body’s production of estrogen. Women who smoke are shown to lose 5 to 10 percent or their mass prior to menopause. Heavy drinkers also suffer more fractures than normal. This may be due to the fact that alcohol is a diuretic, which causes fluid loss.
Good nutrition, foods rich in calcium, plus calcium supplements on a daily basis are definitely an important prevention in stopping osteoporosis. The recommended dosage is 1,500 milligrams daily especially after menopause.
With these lifestyle changes, a regular exercise program and regular chiropractic care you should be able to grow old with a strong healthy spine and beautiful posture.
• You can reach Dr Susan Donald at Life Chiropractic Centre, 9b Village Rd. Tel: 393-2774.