What is osteoporosis?
Types of osteoporosis
- Senile osteoporosis, this affects men and women alike after the age of 70, the bones most affected are the vertebrae and the neck of the femur.
With postmenstrual osteoporosis, you can lose up to 5% of your total bone mass in just one year.
- Post-menstrual osteoporosis: the central theme of this article and the reason osteoporosis is more prevalent in women than men. Among the main causes, we find the reduced secretion of estrogens that have the task of stimulating the greater absorption of calcium in the kidney circulation, promote intestinal absorption (after conversion of vitamin D), and increase the synthesis of calcitonin.
As life expectancy in the modern era extends 30 years after the menopause, it is necessary to take action to reduce the negative effects of this systemic disease of the skeletal system as much as possible.
There is also a secondary type of osteoporosis (which we will not discuss in this article), which can onset at an earlier age, as a result of having other clinical conditions, chronic use of drugs, etc..
- Genetics: body structure and bone dimensions, estrogen and androgen levels.
- Lifestyle: physical activity (how much and what kind), exposure to UV rays (vitamin D), smoking.
- Food: intake of calcium and vitamin D.
- Congenital diseases.
- Chronic use of drugs.
The dynamics of bone mineral density of skeletal apparatus can be influenced by lifestyle changes. Adopting behaviours early in life, during teenage years and twenties offer the greatest level of protection against osteoporosis.
Once the point of mineral density has reduced to a level diagnosed as osteoporosis, it is accepted that the process cannot be reversed, and the primary goal is to slow the rate of any further bone mineral loss as much as possible. Two types of approaches will be described here to achieve this aim, one specific to training and one related to nutrition.
Osteoporosis and training
During specific training that impact or weight bearing activities, mechanical forces are exerted on the bones through reaction forces on the ground and through the contractile activity of the muscles, stimulating maintenance or gain of bone mass. Studies have already highlighted many of the mechanical stimuli of strength training that are beneficial to slow down osteoporosis, including some types of physical activity.
What activity is recommended for postmenopausal osteoporosis?
Many authors agree that greater stimulation of BMD at both spine and femur level require training that combines strength, aerobic and impact exercises.
Training to prevent osteoporosis
It is important in fighting osteoporosis not only with muscles training of the legs but also the extensors of the back, in order to prevent the incidence of vertebral fractures and improve the balance of the body by reducing the risk of falls.
Osteoporosis and balance
It is essential to devote part of the training program to proprioception exercises to stimulate the visual and vestibular system and help improve postural control.
It is also important to re-educate walking, to improve posture and balance during walking, with barefoot exercises, such as walking on heels, toes, transferring weight from one leg to another, single legged exercises and coordination between the upper and lower body, and when possible to perform small jumps.
Osteoporosis and swimming
Training exercises with eyes closed, proprioceptive tables or limited support points, to be chosen according to the physical condition of the persons in question.