Here’s our latest blog by our UNIT 22 Movement Clinic Physio and Osteoporosis expert, Thea…
Before, you close this window because you think this is going to be all sciencey…just give me 5 minutes of your time to tell you why reading this blog is important to you, and more importantly, the people that matter to you, friends, family and children!
- 1 in 3 women over 50 and 1 in 6 men over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures.
- About 3 in 10 incorrectly believe that “drinking milk or taking calcium supplements alone will prevent osteoporosis fractures/breaks.”
- About one-quarter incorrectly believe there is no way to build new bone at their age.
- About 3 in 10 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis mistakenly believe the risk of a fracture/break cannot be reduced in women their age.
Time to bust some myths…but firstly, what is osteoporosis?
It’s a progressive disease that lowers the density of bones over time, making them weaker, brittle and more likely to fracture. Osteoporosis is a silent disease, i.e. you don’t feel yourself losing bone mass until you have a fragility fracture (by this I mean a fracture caused without trauma)- and even this can be misdiagnosed…“only old ladies fall and break bones”….WRONG.
The truth is osteoporosis is a preventable disease that is taking its toll personally and economically; it is even projected to cost the UK government more than lung cancer treatment by the year 2050.
So, what does this all have to do with us, the healthy enthusiastic gym goers that we are?! Well, it’s not just ourselves we should think about…who has an aunt, uncle, Grandma, granddad who has said…. “Lifting weight is bad for me at my age”. Here’s where my eyes roll to the back of my head. Exercise, specifically weight lifting/resistance training has many benefits; mentally and physically. New evidence demonstrates the clear link between high impact, load bearing exercise and increased bone density.
What is bone density? Bone density literally is how dense and, therefore, strong your bones are. A bone density test tells you if you have normal bone density, low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis. It is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis.
Stronger bones = reduced risk of fractures…simple!
Building Peak Bone Mass- Now let’s talk about the ‘Youth of Today’!
We build our peak bone mass in our late 20s and 30s. So this means our bones reach their maximum strength and size in early adulthood. The higher the peak bone mass in our 20s the lower the risk of osteoporosis as we age. This is the perfect opportunity for us to ensure that children and adolescents are getting adequate calcium and vitamin D with a nutritious diet and participating in regular LOAD BEARING exercise (ahemm Crossfit for kids plug).
Let’s talk Risk!
There are number of known risk factors to having weaker bones …
Here are just a few (not in order)
- Sorry ladies… we stand alone in being a risk factor
- Age- no escaping this one
- Early or postmenopausal women (yes lucky us)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Heavy smoker
- Long-term steroid medication
- Lower BMI (especially females)
How at risk are you..? Take this one minute test… Click here
Intervention– Strong Straight and Steady National Osteoporosis Foundation Click Here
Variety of exercise – multidirectional loading/work that positively challenges the spine and limbs i.e. don’t do the same exercise every day! This is CrossFit FYI – thanks Greg for programming such a variety! You’re probably reading this thinking, yes I already do this… well great keep going but don’t forget about the people around you…can you help them improve their bone health? Here’s a little gem for you to fact fire at your friends and family…“50 heel drops per day can help maintain bone health”.
BIG HOWEVER…you can do too much exercise…over exercising combined with poor intake of adequate nutrition i.e. protein, calcium and vitamin D can lead to poor bone health. Ever heard of RED-S? Well, if not you heard it here first, Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport. The insufficient calorie intake and excessive energy expenditure alter our body system and can lead to impaired bone health…so be warned, you need to find a balance.
Diet – Calcium and Vitamin D:
- Helps us regulate calcium and phosphate supports muscle – made by the skin in reaction to sunlight, stored as fat.
Sources – Sunlight, FOOD (can be both animal and plant based products), supplements.
- Calcium combines with minerals to form crystals to give strength to bones and teeth, has role in blood clotting and muscle contraction.
Sources – Leafy green veggies, soya beans, tofu (if that floats your boat), dairy product and many many more!
New research is suggesting that if you are going to supplement Vitamin D, D3 is the best variety to take and it should be taken with Vitamin K2 for best results.
So what next…well as a physio I am passionate about educating people and providing them with the most up-to-date and evidence-based information on how best to look after all aspects of their health and wellbeing. Osteoporosis is a really important topic mostly because it is something we can all easily address before injury or issues arise. Not just for my clients, but for my family and myself.
I have written this blog to open the topic of conversation and perhaps help us all begin the process of reflecting on our health and fitness in a slightly different way. Perhaps set some different goals (not just that PB in snatch or a muscle up); consider our diets, our time in the sun (what sun??) and even those beers or fags at the weekend. Most importantly start the conversation with your family and friends.
Help spread the word pretty please…help prevent the preventable.