How Can We Improve Bone Strength?

We all heard growing up that we must drink your milk to make your bones nice and strong. There is a little truth in it. However, have you ever considered exercise is even more important? Our physiotherapist Jacob Payne explains the importance of exercise for the prevention of Osteoporosis and to maintain good bone health.

Our bones are made up of cells that are forever changing, balancing between building up bone and breaking it down. As we age, unfortunately, we tend to get a bit more break down, rather than building up (AKA osteoporosis). But good news, exercise, specifically resistance exercises can change that.

When bones undergo stress from exercising, a cellular cascade occurs resulting in a biochemical response whereby more bone tissue is made and stored.

Studies over the past two decades have tried to determine which exercises are best and how frequently do we need to do them. These are things they have found.

Weight-bearing exercises

Studies have shown elderly populations, exercises that require you to be weight-bearing have statistically significant differences in bone density around the hip and lower back. These include things like brisk walking/ jogging, tennis, stair exercises, squatting, and sit to stands, dancing, and Tai Chi. Gym exercises like squats, deadlifts, leg press can be a very useful tool to put lots of stress through your bones, so they get stronger.

High impact, high load exercises

For younger individuals with bone density issues or people just wanting to maintain bone health, high impact exercise has shown to improve bone health and density. Activities like jumping, hopping, and skipping programs have shown improvements in density throughout the whole body.
Sports like tennis, basketball, netball, and soccer have all seen benefits related to bone health. The high loads going through the bones and the muscles pulling on bone, stimulate cell development and growth.
Some longer studies show that these benefits can last into adulthood, where active kids had improved bone health compared to sedentary aged-matched people!

It’s well documented that these changes in bone health and strength are easily made when we are younger, and they might last if we keep exercising 2-3 days a week. But it’s never too late to start to improve your bone health and density.

In addition to bone health, the above-mentioned weight-bearing and high load exercises are excellent for gross muscle strength improvements and balance. So, even more, reasons to get started today.

It’s important to note that every person is different and for some individuals require more than just exercise. Supplementation of different minerals and medications can be prescribed by your doctor to help improve the density of your bones.

If you would like more advice and tips on what exercises will help you, chat to your allied health specialist today.

 

References

Santos, L., Elliott-Sale, K. J., & Sale, C. (2017). Exercise and bone health across the lifespan. Biogerontology18(6), 931-946.

Bailey, C. A., & Brooke-Wavell, K. (2010). Optimum frequency of exercise for bone health: randomised controlled trial of a high-impact unilateral intervention. Bone46(4), 1043-1049.

 

Written by Physiotherapist Jacob Payne

Jacob graduated from Griffith University in 2016 with a Masters of Physiotherapy following a Bachelors Degree in Exercise and Sports Science in 2014.

He has spent the majority of his career working in private practice and sports physiotherapy, developing particular interests in musculoskeletal, post-operative, and neurological rehabilitation. Jacob is highly motivated to help each patient reach their desired goals.

He has recently moved back to the Gold Coast where he enjoys riding his motorbike, traveling and hiking, and spending the day at the beach.

Jacob is available for in-home appointments.