Part Two of Two by: Anne Andrews ~ Licensed Massage Therapist
The research done on bone and exercise shows that moving around while weight bearing gives the greatest response to bone development in the right places. Any resistance exercise will help build bone.
This is the rationale for doing weights or other types of non-functional resistance exercises in gyms, classes, etc. The thing is that the two biggest problems of osteoporosis occur in the hips and in the spine which may eventually break. “Weights” don’t hit these areas in a way that reduces the risk of breaks or fractures — even though you may be adding bone tissue in other places. “Best bone-building weight bearing exercise” = walking. Walking is better than running because bone building favors lower impact loading as opposed to high impact and frequent loading cycles. There is a common belief that what is called the “Dowager’s” hump is caused by osteoporosis. It was thought that this excessive curve in the upper back was the result of weak, porous bones unable to hold up the weight of the spine. This weakness in the bones allowed the spine to collapse forward. The actual research shows that this curve of the spine, called “hyperkyphosis” is a risk factor for osteoporosis and not the other way around.
Osteoporosis is caused by a lack of loading. The farther something curves forward like your head, the less weight it places on what sits below it. Without this weight the bones in the spine are not challenged to stay strong. Your alignment is actually a huge deal when it comes to bone growth. You can make your daily walk more weight-bearing by stacking your body. See those walkers with their torso out in front of them? Their walk is less weight-bearing than it could be. Have too much curve in your upper spine? Wear your head out in front of the rest of the body? These are all things that decrease bone regeneration and fixing them can be as simple as stretching your muscles to their correct length and using your body as it was designed. There are other methods such as the Bones for Life program that can help to “stack” your spine properly so that your head will rest more directly over the spine and you are not slumping forward.