Reverse Osteoporotic Bone Loss with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga’s emphasis on strength-building, balance and alignment can help people with osteoporosis avoid injury. Low-impact weight-bearing yoga poses stimulate bone growth to build stronger bones. Standing poses can build strength in your hips, an area commonly affected by osteoporosis. Light back-bending back extension poses decompress the vertebrae and build spinal strength.” – Kristin Shea

 

Bone is living tissue that, like all living tissues, is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone. This results in a loss of bone mass, causing bones to become weak and brittle. It can become so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. These fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. Osteoporosis, particularly in its early stages, is difficult to diagnosis as there are typically no symptoms of bone loss. But once bones have been weakened, signs and symptoms may include: back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra, loss of height over time, a stooped posture, or a bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.

 

Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide; approximately 10% of women aged 60, 20% of women aged 70, 40% of women aged 80 and 70% of women aged 90. In the United States 54 million adults over 50 are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass; 16% of women and 4% of men. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, including 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over age 50. Most fractures occur in postmenopausal women and elderly men. Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll. The disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers and is comparable or greater than that lost to a variety of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure related heart disease.

 

The most common treatments for osteoporosis are drugs which slow down the breakdown of bone, combined with exercise. The side effects of the drugs are mild, including upset stomach and heartburn. But, there is a major compliance problem as the drugs must be taken over very long periods of time. In fact, only about a third of patients continue to take their medications for at least a year. Even when drugs are taken, exercise is recommended to improve bone growth.

 

Yoga is a relatively gentle low-cost exercise that can be adjusted to the capabilities of elderly individuals. “By pitting one group of muscles against another, yoga exposes bones to greater forces and, therefore, might enhance bone mineral density more than other means.” So, it would seem reasonable to suspect that yoga practice might be effective in the treatment of osteoporosis. In today’s Research News article “Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1281868151837108/?type=3&theater

or below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851231/

Lu and colleagues recruited participants over the internet who had recent bone density measures and were willing to practice yoga for 12 minutes per day. Only participants who complied and practiced yoga at least every other day were included in the final sample. In the four years prior to the study the participants lost bone density with an average loss per month of −0.0036 g/cm2 for the spine, −0.00008 g/cm2 for the hips, and −0.009 for the femora and 109 bone fractures were reported. After practicing yoga for two years the participants increased bone density with an average gain per month of 0.048, 0.088, and 0.0003 g/cm2, for spine, hips, and femora and only 19 bone fractures were reported.

 

These are exciting results and suggest that the practice of yoga has long-term benefits for bone health. These results suggest that osteoporotic bone loss can be reversed with yoga. The people studied were from all over the world, making the results highly generalizable to disparate populations. Also, yoga practice has many additional benefits for psychological and physical health and it is safe, low-cost, and can be adapted for individuals at varying ages and physical conditions.

 

Hence, practice yoga for bone health.

 

”yoga poses, have improved bone strength and mineral density significantly. . . .They showed a dramatic rise in the bone mineral density of those that practiced yoga. The people that did not do any yoga had the expected modest fall in their bone mineral density.” – Lauren Fishman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Lu, Y.-H., Rosner, B., Chang, G., & Fishman, L. M. (2016). Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 32(2), 81–87. http://doi.org/10.1097/TGR.0000000000000085

 

Abstract

Objective:

Assess the effectiveness of selected yoga postures in raising bone mineral density (BMD).

Methods:

Ten-year study of 741 Internet-recruited volunteers comparing preyoga BMD changes with postyoga BMD changes.

Outcome Measures:

Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometric scans. Optional radiographs of hips and spine and bone quality study (7 Tesla).

Results:

Bone mineral density improved in spine, hips, and femur of the 227 moderately and fully compliant patients. Monthly gain in BMD was significant in spine (0.0029 g/cm2, P = .005) and femur (0.00022 g/cm2, P = .053), but in 1 cohort, although mean gain in hip BMD was 50%, large individual differences raised the confidence interval and the gain was not significant for total hip (0.000357 g/cm2). No yoga-related serious injuries were imaged or reported. Bone quality appeared qualitatively improved in yoga practitioners.

Conclusion:

Yoga appears to raise BMD in the spine and the femur safely.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851231/

 

Fight Osteoporosis with Yoga

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does. By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.” – Loren Fishman

 

Bone is living tissue that, like all living tissues, is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone. This results in a loss of bone mass, causing bones to become weak and brittle. It can become so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. These fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. Osteoporosis, particularly in its early stages, is difficult to diagnosis as there are typically no symptoms of bone loss. But once bones have been weakened, signs and symptoms may include: back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra, loss of height over time, a stooped posture, or a bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.

 

Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide; approximately 10% of women aged 60, 20% of women aged 70, 40% of women aged 80 and 70% of women aged 90. In the United States 54 million adults over 50 are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass; 16% of women and 4% of men. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, including 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over age 50. Most fractures occur in postmenopausal women and elderly men. Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll. The disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers and is comparable or greater than that lost to a variety of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure related heart disease.

 

The most common treatments for osteoporosis are drugs which slow down the breakdown of bone, combined with exercise. The side effects of the drugs are mild, including upset stomach and heartburn. But, there is a major compliance problem as the drugs must be taken over very long periods of time. In fact, only about a third of patients continue to take their medications for at least a year. Even when drugs are taken, exercise is recommended to improve bone growth.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Yogasanas on osteoporosis in postmenopausal women”

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1198346906855900/?type=3&theater

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728958/

Motorwala and colleagues studied the effects of yoga practice on bone density of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The women were treated with a 1-hour yoga practice, 4-days per week for 6-months, including postures and breathing exercises. Bone density was measured before and again after treatment with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). They found that yoga practice resulted in a significant improvement in bone density. Without treatment, bone density generally becomes worse over this period of time. So, it would appear that yoga practice improves bone density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

 

This is an important outcome, but it probably understates the benefits of yoga practice for these postmenopausal women. It has been shown that yoga practice produces a number of physical and psychological benefits that were not measured in the present study. In addition, yoga is a generally safe treatment with few adverse consequences. Hence, various weight bearing as well as nonweight bearing yoga postures along with breathing exercises are effective in improving bone density and integrated yoga exercises should be an important component of any osteoporosis treatment exercise regime.

 

So, fight osteoporosis with yoga.

 

“We often consider the frailty and disability associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia (bone loss that is not as severe as osteoporosis) as a normal part of aging. Medical research shows, however, that it’s not aging, but inactivity that causes bones to weaken and easily break. Although medications may be necessary to treat severe osteoporotic conditions, the best preventative strategy is to engage in bone-strengthening exercise, like yoga” – Gary Kaplan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies