🦴VASIE Pilates & Osteoporosis

Exercise Benefits for people with Osteoporosis or Osteopenia.

Exercise is beneficial for people with Osteoporosis or Osteopenia especially before menopause. “Though it feels and looks solid, living bone is dynamic tissue that is constantly altered in response to motion and movement. The more your bones are called upon to carry weight, the more your body puts its resources into building them to support that weight. Bone and muscle are part of the same unit, and as you build muscle, you build bone by default. Here’s why: muscles are attached to bones by tendons. When muscles contract, the tendons tug on your bones, stimulating them to grow. The stronger the muscle, the more powerful the stimulation will be on the bone”.[4]

“While both men and women can develop osteoporosis, women are far more likely than men to experience bone loss, and the critical time in their lives for bone health is the menopause transition. For years we’ve been told that women can lose up to one-fifth of their bone mass during the menopause transition. Waning estrogen doesn’t make it impossible to build bone in perimenopause and menopause, though, women’s bodies maintain bone best when our hormones are balanced”.[5]

VASIE Pilates & Osteoporosis or Osteopenia.

The VASIE (Van Alstine Structural Integration Exercise) programs at Studio One provide modifications that can benefit people with concerns about their bone density and keep them safe and less likely to fall. VASIE methods target TA which helps to stabilize the spine and help to establish a more neutral spinal position. This is a fundamental element of spine health and is critical to those struggling with protecting their bones. VASIE classes are unique in training the muscles of the feet which help prevent falls and create stability from the ground up.

  • While flexion exercise is an integral part of Pilates, the program at Studio One offers modifications for people with concerns about bone density. In our Deep Core Toning classes and Boot Camps, spinal flexion is minimal and is often smaller and safer than doing household chores. The staff at Studio One are not trained medical professionals and we cannot recommend or diagnose the amount for spinal motion that is healthy for your individual body. Because of this, we recommend you talk to your doctor and know exactly what you can and cannot do. Please notify your instructor and update your profile with us when you become aware of any changes. We highly recommend a private lesson is you need modifications for group classes. “Balance and control play a large role in the Pilates repertoire, regardless of whether you are on the mat or using the machines. Pilates is a whole-body experience and promotes symmetry of the musculature along with proper body mechanics. Along those lines, all exercises emphasize "the core" - the deep stabilizing muscles of the lower back and pelvis, including the deepest layer of abdominals”. [6]
  • The studio one VASIE program is unique in its training and approach to breath. This in uniquely beneficial to people with bone density concerns. “Training Costal breathing, in which the ribs expand posterolaterally (buckethandle–style, encouraging breathing into the lower back) and the transversus abdominis muscles are contracted to prevent abdominal expansion or bulging”[7]. This is a vital component to master before really beginning a bone density building exercise program.
  • Balance is a key component of conditioning to prevent falls and fractures “For the vast majority of people, osteoporotic bone fractures occur as a result of a fall. Ninety percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, as are at least 50% of vertebral fractures and most wrist and forearm fractures. And falls among people 65 years and older are very common, affecting one in three Americans in this age group. Moreover, approximately 30% of all women and 20% of all men older than 50 will fall each year”.[8] “There is a growing awareness that simply having weak bones does not necessarily mean fractures are inevitable. Factors that increase the risk of falling (such as poor balance and coordination, muscle weakness, and factors related to lifestyle) have a strong bearing on a person’s risk of fracture. Thus, fall prevention is becoming a cornerstone of fracture prevention efforts”[9]
  • Some flexion exercises are a potential risk for people with bone density issues. “The importance of these results cannot be overstated. Sinaki & Mikkelson found that 89% of the people who performed only flexion exercises suffered additional fractures during the study. This indicates that it is harmful and dangerous to allow clients to perform flexion exercises when they have known osteoporosis! Many subsequent research papers have affirmed this (Keller 2003; Meeks 2004; Bassey 2001). Forward flexion causes excessive compression force on the anterior (or front) surface of the vertebral bodies, where most of the trabecular bone is located. In those with low bone density of the spine, the weakened bone cannot withstand such force and fractures may-- or will--occur. Compression forces on the vertebrae are also excessive during side-bending of the thoracic and upper-lumbar spine. Forward flexion, side-bending and-- especially--forward flexion combined with rotation are therefore contraindicated for clients with osteoporosis--and hence for clients with osteopenia”. [10] “Flexion exercises where you bend your spine significantly forward can increase the risk of vertebral fractures by putting excessive pressure on the vertebral bodies. Such exercises may include crunches where you round your back, touching your toes from a standing position, pulling your knees into your chest and lifting your chin and neck while on your back, or rounding your back over and downward while in a seated position. Extension exercises where you stretch up and flex backwards are generally safe for everyone.”[11]
  • Extension of the spine in Pilates movements is beneficial for spine health and bone density. “Spinal extension is a different story. The posterior surface of the vertebral bodies contains the pars interarticularis, the pedicals and the lamina, which have a higher composition of cortical bone and are at less risk for fracture. These areas do get compressed as the spine moves into extension, but the movement is much less risky than flexion because of the strength of cortical bone. One research study showed that people with stronger back extensor muscles had higher bone density in their spines (Sinaki et al.1986). Another found that strong back extensors correlated with fewer vertebral fractures and increased bone mineral density (Sinaki et al. 1996 & 2002)”.[12]
  • Be informed and use caution in your exercise program. “Not all exercise is beneficial and in fact we certainly do need to be cautious of overloading forces stemming from movements that can indeed lead to an osteoporotic fracture”.[13]