How to Use Yoga to Heal and Strengthen Your Bones
Osteoporosis and its precursor, osteopenia, are common conditions that are becoming more prevalent with each passing day.
It’s estimated that over 54 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis today; an aging population means that more Americans will be at risk for developing fractures of the hip, spine, and limbs in the years to come.
Luckily, yoga is also a growing phenomenon in North America, and that’s very good news for those with low bone density.
Yoga has been shown to help regenerate bone mineral and slow the march of the disease, which could lift your osteoporosis limitations and dramatically improve your quality of life.
However, jumping right into a yoga routine at your local studio is not the best approach for better bone health. You’ll need to bring patience, self-awareness, and an open mind to your yoga practice in order to see positive and permanent results.
How Yoga Can Help
It has long been known that progressive-resistance exercise – any dynamic activity where you move your body up and down against gravity – can strengthen your bones and prevent further bone density loss.
That’s how people who run, jog, jump rope, and do high-impact aerobics have been able to protect their bones as they age, especially after menopause when a drop in estrogen eats away at bone mass. (For men, bones begin to thin out around age 70, when testosterone begins to drop.)
Certain yoga sequences fall into this realm of progressive-resistance exercise; others complement your regular aerobic routine with some anaerobic resistance, which also helps build the bones.
As you continue to exercise in these ways, your bones will react by changing shape and getting larger in diameter. So, even though the bone regeneration process slows as you age, you maintain a healthy structure in your skeleton – and that means less risk of fractures and breaks.
The Best Yoga Postures for Osteoporosis
Not surprisingly, some yoga can stress the body too much if you already have bone or joint issues. It may not seem as high-impact as running, but yoga can involve extremely powerful movements and demanding sequences that could leave you hurting rather than healing.