Is Yoga Good For Osteoporosis?

A strength-based exercise routine is beneficial for preventing loss of bone mass and bone tissue for people with conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Yoga posture for Osteoporosis

Our bodies grow naturally till the age of 25 years, though this process can be made more efficient with the help of a good exercise regime and balanced nutritional intake. But, in a person with osteoporosis, the natural pace at which bone cells are produced faster than the rate of bone loss, is disrupted.

This leaves the person suffering from this disease with weakened bones later in life. In severe cases of osteoporosis, low bone density may arise at an early stage and could result in the risk of a painful bone fracture like vertebral fractures.

Physical activity that works on your muscle strength is also a proven method to reduce the scenarios of low bone mass. Isometric exercises for osteoporosis are especially effective at strengthening the neck, back, upper, and lower extremities, and are capable of enhancing bone formation.

Yoga may also be an effective treatment for osteoporosis. Certain studies have found that practicing yoga for as little as eight to ten minutes daily can increase bone density. 

Is Yoga Good for Osteoporosis and Osteopenia?

Yoga is a form of exercise that has been adopted worldwide due to its numerous benefits. Regular practice of yoga is an excellent way of increasing isometric strength in muscles, strengthening ligaments, tendons, and promoting bone growth. This is the reason why many athletes make yoga practice a regular part of their training. 

When you perform a yoga pose, you are engaging different muscle groups at work in different directions. This creates tension in the body, stimulating the cells called osteoblasts, which form new bone formation.

Butterfly Pose Yoga for Senior

Yoga practice moves your muscle groups in a way that they work against each other. These movements yield benefits that are similar to those created by weight-bearing exercises. Yoga postures that involve a twisting pose or a flexion pose work the best to promote bone growth.

Yoga exercises increase balance and flexibility; this is a huge advantage for people with osteoporosis as they are at a higher risk of hip fracture or bone fracture. A person with low bone mineral density cannot risk an osteoporotic fracture by taking a fall. Increased balance and flexibility would mean that the person would be less prone to tripping and falling.

Group experiment reports of DEXA scans reveal that when osteoporotic and osteopenic patients practiced yoga regularly, they gained bone mineral density when compared to the patients under prescription medication alone.

Now, since we have given you an account of how effective yoga practice can be in preventing and treating bone health issues, let us explore some yoga asanas that are most suited to mitigate bone loss.

Word of Caution: Before performing any of the yoga exercises mentioned here, you must consult a physical therapist, or yoga therapist as they are in a better position to guide people with various health complications. 

We also recommend that you get a DEXA scan before diving into complex yoga postures to understand the state of your skeletal health. It also helps you avoid any complications that may arise as a consequence of your weakened bones. Yoga practice includes movements involving spinal flexion. These movements may result in a vertebral fracture if you have severe osteoporosis and we urge you to be extra cautious.

Once your physical therapist or doctor clears you to practice light to medium intensity yoga, you can start performing the yoga poses mentioned below in a sequence.

 

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Yoga Poses for Osteoporosis

Tree Pose

  • Begin standing straight and then bending your right knee as the first movement.
  • You follow this by rotating the same knee outside while keeping the pelvis stable.
  • Now, lift your right foot so that it touches and rests on your left leg. Complete the pose by folding your hands in front of your chest.
  • Regularly practicing the tree pose does wonder in fixing posture, spine strength, and single-leg balance.

Extended Triangle Pose

  • Start with a wide-leg stance.
  • Rotate your left foot and knee outside that it makes an apparent right angle, aligned with the direction of your right knee.
  • Now, bring both your arms up to make a T-shape with your neck and extend your torso downwards to the left leg.
  • Try to touch your left shin with your left hand while keeping your right hand stretched upwards.
  • As you progress, try to go lower.

This pose will work on your sideward spinal flexion and train your body to prevent any vertebral fracture due to hyperextension.

Warrior Yoga Pose
Warrior Yoga Pose

 

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Warrior Pose II

  • Stand in a wide stance and rotate your left foot and knee outside, just like the extended triangle pose.
  • Now bend your left knee in a way that doesn’t surpass your heel.
  • Once you make a 90-degree angle with your left leg at the knee, look in the direction of your left knee and raise both your arms straight at your shoulder level.

Extended Side Angle Pose

  • Begin this yoga pose from ‘Warrior Pose II’ and extend your torso to rest your left arm on your left knee.
  • Now, extend your right arm and take it over your right ear.
  • End the pose by extending out your right heel with the help of your toes.

Locust Pose

  • This is a spine extension yoga pose that you begin by laying chest flat with arms along your torso.
  • Lift your chest off the ground along with your legs stretched out. Do not strain your body and bring your arms up in the air along your torso.
  • This move targets the lumbar as well as the thoracic spine and prevents fractures due to hyperextension and other types of vertebral fractures.

 

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Bridge Pose

Another yoga asana that is excellent for spinal flexion is the ‘Bridge Pose’.

  • To perform this move, lie down on your back with your knees bent. Follow this by pressing your feet into the ground and lifting your hips and torso off the ground.
  • Now extend both your arms and join them by interlinking them under your body bridge.
  • Ease into the final position by rotating your shoulders backward.
  • This is one of the more challenging yoga postures as it puts not only your lumbar and thoracic spine but your whole body under tension.

You can club this move with other types of workouts as well as it is an excellent way to strengthen your body and stimulate bone growth.

Bridge pose

Corpse Pose 

This pose is usually done at the end of any yoga workout or sequence and is meant to relax your body and its systems.

  • Lie down on your back and keep your legs hip-width apart and extend by stretching your toes away from the body.
  • Keep your shoulder blades touched to the ground and spread your arms by your torso.

This yoga exercise plan covers almost all the muscles and joints of the body and will provide a full-body workout to tackle osteoporosis. You can do them on your own but it is better that you join a yoga class to receive expert supervision.

The yoga postures mentioned above are suited to boost isometric muscle strength and bone mineral density. These yoga positions are part of Loren Fishman Yoga, a much-studied and scientifically proven yoga therapy for osteoporosis.

 

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Loren Fishman Yoga for Osteoporosis: A Study

Loren Fishman is a physician who constantly incorporates yoga therapy along with his medical practice to treat his patients. His endeavor to put regular yoga practice as a treatment method for people with low bone mass began when he was cautioned against using yoga asanas on either osteoporotic or osteopenic patients.

Loren Fishman, along with the help of a few friends, made a DVD workout video called “Yoga For Osteoporosis”. The poses he chose are focused on parts of the body most sensitive to osteoporotic fracture- the spine, hips, femur, and wrists. He believed that strengthening the bones in these parts of the body will reduce or even eliminate the possibility of painful fractures.

Loren Fishman put in two to four years of work for collecting data about practitioners’ blood tests, DEXA scan, etc, which were used to conclude that practicing yoga not only put a pause on the loss of bone tissue but in many cases reversed it.  

Loren Fishman’s Yoga for Osteoporosis was a path-breaking study in the field of osteoporosis, bone health, low bone density treatment, and the medicinal benefits of yoga for osteoporosis patients. He found that practicing yoga under a specialized yoga teacher can work wonders to fix the issues of low bone mass and the apparent risk of bone fracture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Everybody with Osteoporosis/Osteopenia Perform Yoga?

If you are suffering from severe osteoporosis, we advise you to consult a physical therapist or an appropriately qualified yoga therapist. Get your DEXA scan reports and present these to the therapist for recommendations before starting the yoga practice.

senior woman doing a yoga pose

What Yoga Poses Are Most Suited for Those with Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis sufferers should make neutral-spine poses like the Mountain pose the crux of their practice. Start by aligning the spine optimally in these poses.

 

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Points to Consider:

– You can perform any asana and hold postures that strengthen the muscle in the legs, arms, and abdominal region.

– Avoid postures that involve complete arching of the back, like Chakrasana. Likewise, advanced spinal flexion or a twisting pose can cause compression fractures. The ‘Locust’ and ‘Bridge’ poses mentioned above should also be performed only if cleared by your yoga therapist. You can do the modified versions of these asanas which do not place unwanted stress on the body.

– The initial focus of the therapy should revolve around slow progression, aligning breath, flexibility, and gaining balance. Progressing too fast could lead to painful fractures in people with weaker bone structures. A compression fracture in the lumber or the thoracic spine could even prove to be life-threatening for old age patients.

– You can practice ‘Yin Yoga‘ to fully benefit from the calming, yet strengthening aspect of yoga. Yin Yoga encourages you to hold the yoga postures for longer periods. Yin Yoga can be a good starting point for the management of osteoporosis in the elderly.

Conclusion

Research has shown that yoga can prevent or slow osteoporosis. In some cases, yoga can reverse the process of bone loss-Yoga is as good as any other weight-bearing exercise if you are looking to increase bone strength and bone mineral density. Yoga and an osteoporosis diet plan can greatly reduce the painful effects of osteoporosis.

The amount of information available online is overwhelming and can prove to be risky without the guidance of a qualified professional. A compression fracture or a wrist fracture is not something that people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis can easily recover from, so we insist that you get in touch with a yoga teacher who is experienced in guiding people with similar bone conditions.