Menopause: Moving Past Osteoporosis

One of the most common things my clients over 50 is that they’re worried about their bone health. Especially, if they’ve seen their doctor lately, they tell me they’re worried about Osteoporosis. What does that mean?

Osteoporosis literally translates to “porous bone.” You can think about our bones as sponges. When they’re healthy, they’re strong and dense, and the holes of the sponge are tiny, like a brick. Osteoporosis is the condition when the pores get bigger, taking up more space, and weakening the bone.

Why does this happen?

As we get older, the cells that maintain our bones start to slow down. See, our bones aren’t static. They’re constantly being remodeled, made stronger and stronger when they’re under load. It’s this load that stimulates the cells to get going and lay down new bone. It’s these same cells that show up to repair the bones when they’re broken. As we get older, we get hit with a double whammy. As we get older, we tend to be more sedentary, lifting less (reducing that bone stimulating load), and the less load we experience, the more these cells stop doing their job. On top of that, our body’s metabolism is also slowing down. As a result, our bones grow less dense, which makes them more fragile, and more prone to breaking.

Why does it matter?

Every one out of three women, and every one out of five men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to Osteoporosis.

Typically, that will be a femur fracture, but it can impact the pelvis, arms and shoulders, wrists. Regardless, a broken bone is a significant medical trauma, and can impact your body for years to come, not to mention the medical bills, stress, and pain.

Is there any good news?

Absolutely! While we can’t control getting older, we can certainly control the load our bones experience! Remember, these bone cells respond to stress and load, so if you start weight lifting, you’ll start stimulating the cells that lay down new bone. It’s an old and outdated myth that older adults should avoid the weightlifting room.

In fact, as you get older, it is more important for you to show up and start moving weights. Good evidence in the last 15 years has revealed that it’s not only safe for adults over 50 to perform traditional lifts (like the squat, overhead press, and perform jump landings), it can prevent more bone loss, and even reverse it.

Does this mean you should just run straight to the gym and start pumping iron, especially if you already have an osteoporosis diagnosis?

Probably not! If you already have osteoporosis, you’re already at risk, and if you haven’t weight lifted before, it’s incredibly important that you be supported in doing so safely. As a Physical Therapist, I’m uniquely qualified to help you protect your bones by creating a weight lifting program that will activate those bone cells. Not only do we know the research about how to promote bone density, we understand the mechanics that will help prevent injury, and keep you stronger and safer for longer.

If you’ve received an osteoporosis diagnosis, if you’ve discussed it with your physician, or you’re worried you’re at risk, contact us to schedule an appointment so we can help you take those bones from brittle to bad ass.

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