Low bone density in itself isn’t so much the problem, it’s what comes next…. a fall! The concern with having a fall with low bone density is that you are at increased risk of a fracture. As low bone density means your bones are more fragile. Meaning your bones can’t cope with the impact/trauma of a fall, and so a fracture is more likely. Fractures can become complicated and can in turn need surgical approaches. This is why if you have osteoporosis, falls prevention is a must!
Now, you already know to include heavy resistance exercise and impact exercise, as identified in my last blog – which you can read here. The next step now is to introduce some falls prevention exercise into your routine as well.
The NITTTY GRITTY OF FALLS PREVENTION TRAINING
Falls prevention training for osteoporosis includes exercises for your balance, stability and reaction time.
Balance & stability
As we all know, our balance declines naturally as we age. So it is really important that you counteract this with some balance and lower limb stability exercises. And they need to be challenging! There is no point choosing an exercise where you’re very stable and have no risk of losing your balance. You should be wobbly and working hard to keep yourself stable! Some examples include: standing on one leg, walking light a tightrope walker (heel to toe), slow marching on the spot. These all include a balance challenge as well as the need to stabilise yourself around the pelvis.
Some more advanced balance and stability exercises could be a single leg deadlift, single leg squat, lunge, step ups, standing on an unstable surface, standing with your feet together or in tandem and closing your eyes or turning your head from left to right.
The next thing to be mindful of improving is your reaction time (specifically lower limb) – which also declines as we age. This is important because if you’re falling, having a better (i.e. quicker) reaction time will mean you have an increased chance of catching yourself and avoiding falling over. This requires a little more creative thinking to find the right exercise for you! Some examples include: leaning forward and stomping your foot to catch yourself, or, fast feet running on the spot and landing on one leg when notified to do so (either from a person or an automated noise).
While performing any of these exercise, always make sure you’re being safe. You obviously do not want to have a fall, however, you do need to challenge your balance. Always be safe, never do something too advanced for your physical ability. Start with something too easy rather than too hard, and progress your way up. If you need to, don’t be ashamed of having to hold onto something sturdy for support until you improve your confidence and balance capacity.
As indicated, there are many exercise tips for osteoporosis, and exercise is a great way to help manage osteoporosis. One of those tips is in falls prevention exercise – which you don’t necessarily need any equipment for! If you missed my last blog on ‘exercise tips for osteoporosis: overview & what exercise to do’, then head here to have a read.
Most of the exercises mentioned above are super easy to do throughout your day. This could be while you’re waiting for your kettle to boil or while you’re brushing your teeth. Incorporating some of these exercises into your day to day life is a great way to make sure you’re getting plenty of falls prevention exercises into your weekly routine.
Just a reminder that these exercise tips for osteoporosis are general in nature and to seek out something specific and individualised based on your capabilities if needed. It is very different person to person. What might be ok for one person might not be ok for the next.
If you’re interested in reading my next blog and learning about what to ‘avoid’ with osteoporosis, keep an eye out for it to be released soon!
Ask for help
If after reading this you’re unsure where you are at and what you should or shouldn’t be doing, it might be worth making a booking with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. You can find me here – https://informhealth.com/our-team/kara-moore/.
Additionally, here is a great website if you would like to gain some more knowledge around exercise and osteoporosis: https://healthybonesaustralia.org.au/your-bone-health/exercise-bone-health/
Hopefully this information has helped you better understand how to manage osteoporosis with exercise and to help prevent falls. Thankyou for taking the time to read my blog!
Kara, AEP, AES, ESSAM, BClinExPhys(Hons)