Healthy, Buff Bones for Life and Living!

"More than 3 million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis, a condition that causes around 500,000 broken bones every year - that's one every minute." (NOS, 2018)

That's an alarming fact, and maybe you, a member of your family or a close friend has experienced this condition.

For those of us who have not encountered this condition here is some brief information about osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose their strength and are more likely to break, usually following a minor bump or fall. The bones most commonly broken as a result of osteoporosis are the wrist, hip and spine. Osteoporosis can sometimes have other affects on those with the condition, such as a change in body shape and long-term pain. (NOS, 2018)

We build most density in our bones as children - by the time we are 18-20 80% of our bone density is developed.  By the time we get to our mid 30's we all start to lose bone mass.  For ladies, when we hit the menopause due to hormonal changes we lose unto 20% of our bone mass within a 5-7 year period.  However, men suffer from low bone mass too, in the UK 1 in 5 men can suffer.  So, bone health is something that is relevant for all of us, and just as we give thought to caring for our skin, muscles, heart, what about giving some thought to caring for our bones?  Bone health is not just an issue for elderly people but for everyone!

The great news, and it is great news, is that bone is living tissue.  We often think of a skeleton and think of bone as something rigid, but it is important to know that on a microscopic level bone tissue regenerates.  Every 5-7 years we develop a new skeleton - think of exfoliating skin in order to allow for new layers to develop - bone tissue is doing something very similar!

We all need to focus on maintaining the bone mass we have to create healthy resilient protective bones that have the ability to self repair.

Here are a few ideas from the National Osteoporosis Society:

Diet - instantly we think of calcium, but equally important is the role of Vitamin D for the calcium to be absorbed.  However, other minerals such as Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium can help, but always seen within the context of a healthy and varied diet.  

Exercise is critical.  Bones respond positively to stresses placed on them if you move the bones will fortify themselves.  Whilst the natural inclination with any injury or condition will be to go into a protective mode for most people diagnosed with low bone mass exercise is extremely helpful, not just for the body, but also for the mind.

Here are some different types of exercise that is suggested by NOS and Buff Bones ®:

Weightbearing exercise - body weight in gravity. 

Resistance exercise - moving against muscles to pull against the bones.

Impact exercises- generating forces to strengthen the bones and makes them respond positively to stresses.

Whole body strengthening exercises: strengthening the muscles of the body (especially the spine) to support the bones as we age.

Site specific exercise - targeting vulnerable areas in a healthy way: in particular paying attention to the spine, hips and wrist as these areas are the most prone to fracture.  These sites are highly disposed to bone loss because they bone sites in the body that have a high turnover of bone destruction and formation.

Balance training  - to prevent fractures during the years ahead.  Balance training and correct alignment ensures good mechanical forces are loading the bones to make them more resilient.

Functional movement - learning safer movement for daily life - especially avoiding loading the spine, where heavy loading of force can result in fractures for those with lower bone mass.

Medical support:  If you are affected by Osteoporosis or have low bone mass please make sure you check with your medical professionals before commencing any new programme as they may have further guidance or support to offer.

For more information and advice on Bone Health and Osteoporosis go to The National Osteoporosis Society www.nos.org.uk - their website has a huge range of resources on Bone Health and can put you in touch with specialist nurses who can give you further advice on this condition and keeping healthy bones!  NOS is a charity so any help you can give raising awareness or funds is much appreciated!

For more information on the movement system: Buff Bones® go to the section in this website or www.buff-bones.com

What is really important to remember is that it is never too early or too late to take charge of the health of your bones - they carry you through life so give them a helping hand :)