It’s easy to assume that someone frail won’t have the strength to lift weights. I ask you to remember that adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”  This is true of your muscles and bones. Contrary to what you might think, lifting weights for weak bones is a good thing!

yes you should lift weights if you have osteoporosis

What are the Key Points?

It’s all about proper dosage (weight amount and reps) as well as proper alignment and breathing. Everyone, no matter your age, can benefit significantly from resistance training.

  • Research references strengthening your back muscles (spine extensors) to strengthen bone and prevent spinal fractures. (1)
  • Research also points to the effectiveness of squats for building hip bone mineral density. The key is to emphasize rapid initiation of the concentric portion of the squat.(1) This will build power.
  • This concept can be generalized to most strength training moves (think biceps strengthening-quick on the concentric (bending) portion and slow on the eccentric (lengthening) portion.

On a side note, I recommend wearing foot coverings when lifting weights (like tennis shoes). This will protect your feet should a weight slip out of your hands.

 

lifting weights safely with osteoporosisWhat are the Benefits of Weight Training?

Weight training, more than any other exercise, can help strengthen your muscles and bones, maintain and improve posture, hone your balance, reduce pain, and prevent osteoporosis-related falls and fractures.

And as you become stronger, you’ll notice the aches and pains associated with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis often begin to subside. My clients and patients often report that they feel considerably better and stronger over time, once they’ve added a few weights into their daily routine.

 

 

 

Why does Lifting Weights Work?

Bone mass decreases as we age, so lifting weights can help strengthen the bones and restore lost mass or help minimize loss. (2)  When the tendons of muscles pull on their attached bone, it stimulates bone to grow. You actually want your bones to weigh more because heavier bones are less subject to the brittleness and fractures associated with osteoporosis.

The other benefit with weight training is that the stronger your leg and hip muscles are, the more stable and steady you’ll be. If you do happen to trip, you might catch yourself with your hands.  Strong arm and core muscles can help decelerate your fall, mitigating injury to your knees or hips.

Those with osteoporosis should focus on exercises to strengthen the back, hips and wrists since, according to the Mayo Clinic, these are the areas most damaged by bone loss and at greatest risk for fracture.

 

How often should you weight train?

Resistance training should be done optimally two or three times per week. Each session should include exercises to strengthen the hips and legs, trunk and arm muscles, and each exercise should be performed at least eight to 10 times.

 

I teach a twice-weekly strength training class called “Superpowers”. It’s a 30-minute time-efficient strength training class using 2 sets of hand weights, one light and one heavier set based on your current fitness level. All levels are welcome and movements are carefully designed to be spine safe, bone safe and bone-building!

 

Join me every Monday at 9 am and Friday at 11:30 am Pacific Time on Zoom for Superpowers and level up your muscle and bone health.

Register here: https://bonesmartpilates.as.me/Superpowers

 

References

  1. Sinaki et al. Stronger Back Muscles Reduce Vertebral Fractures, Bone Vol. 30, No. 6 June 2002:836–841
  2. Mosti MP, Kaehler N, Stunes AK, Hoff J, Syversen U. Maximal strength training in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Oct;27(10):2879-86. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318280d4e2. PMID: 23287836.
  3. Zamoscinska M, Faber IR, Büsch D. Do Older Adults With Reduced Bone Mineral Density Benefit From Strength Training? A Critically Appraised Topic. J Sport Rehabil. 2019 Dec 12;29(6):833-840. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2019-0170. PMID: 31835241.