Osteoporosis is what is known as a “silent” disease. This means that it occurs without showing any symptoms and with no warning. Osteoporosis causes its sufferers to have weak bones that are much more susceptible to damage and fractures. It is estimated that osteoporosis is responsible for a million bone fractures each year worldwide.
This disease can be prevented by incorporating specific yoga poses into your routine, as yoga is a weight-bearing exercise that relies on your own body weight to improve strength and flexibility. Yoga can also help treat osteoporosis for those who are already suffering from it. Keep reading to find out the do’s and don’ts of yoga for osteoporosis.
Benefits of yoga for osteoporosis
There have been several studies done to show that yoga is beneficial for osteoporosis. One benefit is that yoga is a low-impact exercise, meaning it doesn’t add strain to your body when doing it. Yoga relies on slow, non-jarring movements, making it a perfect exercise for anyone suffering from low bone density. A higher impact exercise, like running or contact sports, would increase the risk of a fracture in someone with osteoporosis.
Yoga also helps to improve balance in people who practice it regularly. As patients with osteoporosis are at such a heightened risk of breaking a bone, improving one’s balance is a great way to help avoid unnecessary accidents that would otherwise lead to a fracture. For women suffering from osteoporosis, falling down is the number one cause of bone fractures.
In order to promote bone density, osteoporosis patients need to stimulate their bones through stretching. By stretching out your muscles, your bones receive the correct signals to begin to heal themselves and build up their density. Yoga is an exercise known for stretching out the muscles and is essentially a moving set of stretches.
Yoga poses for osteoporosis
There are hundreds of different yoga poses to choose from and every tutorial or yoga class you attend will use a different combination of them. How do you know which are the best ones to use for osteoporosis? Well, we’ve narrowed down eleven of the best yoga poses for osteoporosis. Hold each pose for at least 30 seconds and then move onto another.
This pose should be your beginning pose for any yoga routine. You should also use it to transition between other poses. The mountain pose is your primary posture, standing straight and breathing deeply.
The cobra pose focuses on stretching out your back and improving posture. This is important as back pain and even hunchbacks (kyphosis) are common in those suffering from osteoporosis. This pose requires lying on your stomach and curving your back inward by pushing up with your arms. Make sure to keep your head up.
This pose looks similar to a squat, but not as deep. Place your hands with your palms together above your head and bend your knees. This pose will help to strengthen the muscles and joints in the hips, which are very fragile in osteoporosis sufferers. The hips are the most common site of osteoporosis in the body.
In this pose, you will lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet hip-width apart. Keep your arms flat beside you, palms up. Make sure to look directly up at the ceiling and not behind you, or this can cause hypertension in your neck. If you suffer from kyphosis, place a pillow under your head to help maintain a straight back. To engage your abdominal muscles in this pose, lift your hips one to two inches off the floor, keeping your feet and arms firmly pressed into the ground.
Bent-knee Twist Pose
This pose helps to stretch the back muscles and also promotes mobility in the spine. Lie flat on your back with your arms extended to 90-degree angles from your sides with your palms up. With your knees bent, twist your hips gently to one side and then the other. If your shoulders come off the ground, you have twisted too far.
This pose requires balance. Stand up straight and lift your arms above your head, placing your palms together. Life one leg and place your foot on the inside thigh of the opposite leg. Stare straight ahead at an unmoving object and engage your core muscles to help maintain your balance. Make sure not to slump forward from the weight of holding your arms up and maintain a straight posture.
Stand with your back against a wall and your legs wide apart. Move one leg slightly forward and turn the other foot facing outward instead of forward. Stretch out your arms to the sides and bend down toward the out-turned foot. Hold and breathe deeply and then repeat on the opposite side.
Standing straight up, stretch your arms out to the sides and spread your legs wide. With one foot turned out, bend the same knee to the side about 90-degrees while keeping the other foot facing forward. Repeat with the other leg. If you are having trouble maintaining your balance, a chair can be used for support.
This pose maintains the same posture as the warrior pose, but once the knee is bent, bend your body toward it, keeping your arms outstretched until one arm touches the floor beside the bent knee. Lift the other arm so you make a diagonal line from your foot to your raised hand, using your bent knee and hand on the floor to maintain balance.
Revolved Triangle Pose
Stand with your arms stretched out to the sides and your feet wide apart. Reach with one hand toward the opposite foot and twist your torso and hips so you are facing behind you.
This pose should end every yoga session. Lie flat on your back with your legs wide apart and your arms at 45-degree angles from your body. Dig your heels into the ground with your toes outward. Remain in this pose, breathing deeply until your body has cooled down.
Yoga poses to avoid
There are also many yoga poses that are potentially harmful or even dangerous to do when suffering from osteoporosis. These include:
- Downward Dog
- Seated Twist
- Seated Forward Fold
Do’s and don’ts for osteoporosis yoga
Do’s for osteoporosis yoga
The following things are important to keep in mind when practicing yoga for osteoporosis. Do:
- Focus on neutral-spine postures.
- Focus on lengthening and stretching your muscles.
- Do poses that use your hands for support and weight-bearing.
- Practice gentle bends and twists.
- Move slowly between poses and use transition poses to keep your posture in line.
- Practice for 10 to 15 minutes per day.
- Work with an instructor to find the best poses for your body.
Don’ts for yoga poses for osteoporosis
The following list includes things to avoid doing if you wish to implement yoga into your routine for osteoporosis treatment or prevention. Don’t:
- Push or strain your body too far.
- Do crunches or sit-ups.
- Practice poses that require a rounded back.
- Practice extreme bends and twists.
- Practice tough inversion poses.
- Practice standing poses without proper balance support.
- Take classes at intermediate or advanced levels when beginning.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes bone weakening and lessens bone density. People suffering from osteoporosis are at a greater risk for bone damage and even breakage. As a tool for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, yoga can be used to promote bone density and increase strength, balance, and flexibility, all of which can help prevent a fracture. Yoga can be both helpful and harmful, so practice safely!
Related: Can osteoporosis be reversed? 12 natural ways to treat osteoporosis