Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

We usually think that only some conventional weight exercises can help to maintain bone density. But lately, a scientific journal titled "Regular yoga routine could reverse the effect of osteoporosis" is offering a new story altogether. Let us analyze the facts, if yoga does actually have an influence in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and if yoga is a prescription for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis has been on the rise in the last few decades. Statistics show that about 50 women in 200 million suffer from osteoporosis. However, yoga may be effective and can offer promising benefits for osteoporosis.

While you must be aware of the benefits of yoga, are you aware of its impact for osteoporosis and other disorders of low bone density? Is yoga beneficial for osteoporosis? If yes, then are there any precautions that need to be taken? Or are there some ways, where yoga could be strategically used to reduce the risk of bone problems. Let us find the answers to these questions.

How Does Yoga Help with Osteoporosis?

How Does Yoga Help with Osteoporosis?

The research carried out to determine the effect of yoga on bone health was concluded with strong affirmations indicating its benefits. The main benefits of yoga which helps osteoporosis includes improved body coordination, better growth and balance that prevents occurrence of fractures - a major cause for osteoporosis.

The study was also done with an objective to determine if certain yoga poses could affect bone density or not. A group of 741 people from different walks of life were asked to take part in the study, which included men and women. They were subjected to a series of pathological tests like x-ray absorptiometry followed by practicing yoga sessions and mentioning them in their activity session.

When the logs were closely scrutinized, it was found that 227 participants out of which 202 women were practicing yoga every day since two years. While their average age was 68 years, 83% of them were detected to have a bone density lower than recommended. While the HEXA scan reports showed an increase in hip bone density, the spine density also escalated though less significantly. The best part of the study was that not even a single person reported of fractures or spinal twists. Most of the results were mainly attributed to the benefits of yoga, having performed regularly. The consistent bone health and reduced rate of fractures in the aging population can support the fact that yoga does help osteoporosis patients.

Yoga for Osteoporosis and Bone Health

While, yoga has been an ancient practice helping in holistic health and healing, it can also have a great influence to your bone health contributing to overall wellbeing. This has made yoga very popular even in the modern day and is being considered as a prescription for osteoporosis.

  • Yoga relaxes mind and helps to reduce stress, which is the leading cause of most health problems.
  • It is a natural exercise that stretches and strengthens body, muscles and tissues, which helps a great deal in osteoporosis.
  • Yoga offers stability of mind, improves balance and co-ordination, thereby reducing falls and injuries, which is important in osteoporosis.
  • Yoga works positively for body dynamics, aids in better circulation and rejuvenates functioning of the glands in the body.
  • Majority of yoga asana are weight bearing, thereby helping in stimulation of osteoblast required for growth of new bones in the human body.

These benefits of yoga, directly point towards various functions, which promote better bone health, improved bone density, better absorption of essential nutrients and reduced risk of fractures. This itself answers your question, is yoga a prescription for osteoporosis?

Precautions to Be Taken When Doing Yoga for Osteoporosis

As yoga is beneficial for osteoporosis, it is best considered after seeking medical advice. As every person and the health condition is different, the need and manner of practicing yoga must be planned by an expert with proper medical advice.

While practicing yoga for osteoporosis, there are certain precautions you need to take.

  • Prevent Spontaneous Fractures - Bones are tissues that show response when subjected to mechanical stressors. Weight bearing yoga poses can increase the risk of spontaneous fractures in osteoporosis patients. Such fractures can occur suddenly while bending or twisting. People with low bone density should be extra cautious as they are at a higher risk of bone damage while performing intensive yoga exercises. Seek medical advice about how to practice yoga for osteoporosis without straining bones and avoiding extra pressure over spine and vertebrae. Go for trained and certified yoga experts, who can train you well to improve your bone density, in accordance with medical advice.
  • Avoid Certain Yoga Poses – Certain yoga poses may not be safe for osteoporosis patients and must be performed only if advised to do so. When you follow yoga as a prescription for osteoporosis, it is important to know the poses that you must avoid completely and those that you need to perform carefully. Certain forward bending poses that exert excess pressure on the spine, spinal twisting poses, awkward neck postures and poses involving neck compressions may not be advisable in yoga for osteoporosis. Similarly, people with osteoporosis and beginners, need to be careful while performing standing and balancing poses, as there is a greater risk of falls and fractures. Taking support of the wall or a chair may be wise and help when performing yoga for osteoporosis.
  • Avoid Going Too Fast - Before beginning anything, learn to read and understand the rhythm of your body. Instead of beginning with intensive exercises from the start, give some time to adapt and get used to. While yoga is a prescription for osteoporosis, your body is the best judge and you need to follow its pace. Listen to your body and follow the signals, to enjoy the real benefits of yoga, without harming yourself.

No doubt, with these benefits, yoga is a prescription for osteoporosis. Yoga is indeed very effective and beneficial for various ailments and general wellbeing of a person. Yoga is also great for specific conditions, bone and joint disorders, just like it is a useful treatment for osteoporosis. In addition to yoga, there are other natural therapies and lifestyle changes that can help prevent or manage osteoporosis. Regular exercises like walking, swimming or water aerobics can help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Having healthy food with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals from dairy, lean meat, sea food, fruits, green and leafy vegetables, beans and nuts can be of great help too. Other important aspect of managing osteoporosis is to keep your weight under control, so that it reduces the undue pressure on the bones.

Conclusion

To ensure your bones stay healthy and work optimally, practice yoga that involves weight bearing poses like Plank and the Warrior pose. Further, poses like Tree, Dancer etc. are very beneficial in boosting body balance and coordination especially in middle age. When diagnosed with osteoporosis, be very cautious with your spine avoiding any pressure as that could worsen pain and discomfort. Yoga is great for osteoporosis, so seek medical opinion and plan an appropriate exercise and yoga regime.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 20, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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