Yoga for Osteoporosis

Yoga for Osteoporosis

YOGA FOR OSTEOPOROSIS

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and fragile. The term osteoporosis indicates “porous bones”. In this condition, bones become fragile and brittle. Therefore, there is a greater risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis is called a “silent disease” because it develops gradually and symptoms are quite unnoticed.

Data reported by the international osteoporotic foundation reveals that this disease affected about 6.3% of men and 21.2% of women on a global scale. More than 500 million people worldwide suffer from mild to severe forms of osteoporosis. Due to this condition, more than 8.9 million fractures happen annually. This means that every 3 seconds, there is an osteoporosis-related fracture. Fractures in the hips and spine are more severe and very difficult to recover. The condition mostly affects elderly people above age 50. However, certain factors also increase the risks.

Due to the fact that this condition adversely affects the quality of life as well as a huge economic burden on the healthcare system, this necessitates having preventive measures to avoid its risks. [1]

Who Is At More Risk Of Developing Osteoporosis?

Here are some risk factors that have a significant role in causing osteoporosis:

  • Old age mostly it develops in people above 50
  • Poor diet such as deficient in calcium, protein and essential nutrients
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Menopause -there is an average of 20% decline in bone density in the first 5- 7 years after menopause
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Possible side effects of some medications 
  • Alcohol, smoking etc   

Diagnosis And Treatment

Generally, the person may not notice that he/ she is developing osteoporosis until it might get worse. Even a minor pressure on a bone can cause a fracture. Furthermore, bone fractures in old age will take a loge time to heal. Even it may not heal properly leading to pain and limiting physical activity as well. 

If we talk about medications, there are two types; one to slow down bone loss and others that aid in the rebuilding of the broken bone. Therefore, it is advised to adopt a healthier lifestyle and take early preventive measures.

Yoga, the holistic mind-body science is effective as an alternative and complementary therapy for better management and prevention of osteoporosis. Here is how!

Benefits Of Yoga For Osteoporosis – Here Is What Research Says!

An article published by the Harvard Medical School suggests that yoga can be an effective preventive therapy for osteoporosis. One of the possible reasons is that yoga improves balance and coordination, thus significantly reducing the risks of falling. Yoga is not just a set of physical exercises; rather it’s a whole lifestyle.

Study reveals that yoga practitioners, who regularly practice yoga for a long period, have better bone density. The DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scans reveal significant improvement in bone density. Furthermore, none of the participants reported injury or fracture, during yoga practice. [2]

When other medications have their own limitation and adverse effects, yoga offers a safe, cost-effective and easier alternative. Yoga helps in terms of improved balance, better motor functions, nervous coordination, posture, flexibility and improved gait. A better posture along with balance and coordination greatly reduces the chances of falling and thus prevents injuries and osteoporosis-related fractures.[3]

Exercise modalities such as yoga are more ‘preventive’ in nature. Practitioners report overall wellness, strength and balance and fewer incidents of falling and tripping. These benefits of yoga have been consistent in postmenopausal women as well who have a greater risk of osteoporosis. [4]

Apart from the benefits and effectiveness of yoga for osteoporosis, there are some limitations as well. As per the guidelines of the US National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), one should avoid prolonged stretches, trunk rotation and spinal stretches and twisting poses. [5]

Effective Yoga Practices For Managing Osteoporosis:

Asana (Posture):

Here are some of the beginners to moderate-level yoga poses 

  1. Shavasana (corpse pose)
  2. Tadasana (mountain pose)
  3. Salabhasana (locust pose)
  4. Virabhadrasana II (warrior II pose)
  5. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

However, make sure to decide on your practice regime with the help of a trained yoga instructor. Depending on the condition, the trainer will help you choose yoga practices that best fit you.

Moreover, one must adopt a healthier lifestyle in order to prevent such conditions. Healthier lifestyle means:

  • Eat: Healthy, nutritious food   
  • Stay: Physically active and dynamic 
  • Say: No to smoking, drugs and alcohol

Summary

Yoga is the holistic mind-body way of life that can help to prevent and manage osteoporosis and related symptoms. Recent studies and research also affirm the efficacy of such holistic practice for physical and mental health and for managing such health issues. However, this does not imply that yoga is some ‘treatment or cure’ for osteoporosis. Rather, yoga offers a safe, easy to adopt and risk-free option for the prevention and better management of osteoporosis.

References:

  1. https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/facts-statistics/epidemiology-of-osteoporosis-and-fragility-fractures
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/yoga-another-way-to-prevent-osteoporosis
  3. Lu YH, Rosner B, Chang G, Fishman LM. Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss. Top Geriatr Rehabil. 2016 Apr;32(2):81-87.
  4. Fernández-Rodríguez R, Alvarez-Bueno C, Reina-Gutiérrez S, Torres-Costoso A, Nuñez de Arenas-Arroyo S, Martínez-Vizcaíno V. Effectiveness of Pilates and Yoga to improve bone density in adult women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2021 May 7;16(5):e0251391.
  5. Lein, D., Singh, H., & Kim, S. (2018). Role of Yoga in Osteoporosis Rehabilitation. J Yoga Physiother, 4, 7-10.

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