Most weight-bearing and high-impact exercises are well- known for building muscle and bone mass. However, they might not be the right choice for everyone. Besides providing stress reduction and a moderate workout, yoga could also be a great treatment for osteoporosis. Yoga can boost bone health either on its own or when supplemented by other treatments.
Research studies have shown that yoga could slow or prevent — and in many cases even reverse — the gradual bone loss process.
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by thinning and weak bones and can lead to severe fractures. It affects about 200 million women, and 1 in 3 women over 50 often experience osteoporotic fractures. Some classic risk factors for osteoporosis are age, smoking, and low body weight.
What the Research Study Showed
The researchers and scientists who designed the study found that yoga’s popular benefits—such as better coordination and balance—help protect against falling, which is one of the major causes of osteoporotic fractures.
The researchers wanted to find out whether the yoga poses they chose may also improve bone density by exerting a force on the hips and spine. They recruited over 740 individuals who joined the research study on the Internet from 2005 to 2015. They requested these participants to provide dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans of their spines and hips, along with other lab tests, at the start of the study.
The subjects also received DVDs with clear instructions about the yoga poses they had to perform and were requested to log their yoga activity online.
These logs showed that 227 individuals, 203 of whom were women, performed the yoga routine almost every day for about 2 years. The participants’ average age was 68 at the time they entered the study, and over 80% had lower-than-normal bone density.
According to the DEXA scans these subjects submitted at the conclusion of the study, there was a significant increase in bone density, especially in the spine. In addition, hip bone density improved but not considerably. Another positive finding was that none of the subjects reported any bone fractures or injuries caused by performing yoga.
Why Yoga Boosts Bone Health?
Here are key reasons why doing yoga regularly can improve bone health.
- Strength training isn’t the only way to build muscle and bone mass. During weight-bearing standing yoga poses, inverted poses and partially inverted poses such as downward-facing-dog pose, various arm balances, and active backbends, weight is systematically and proportionally applied to the bones in your wrists, hands, arms, neck, feet, upper body, head, and legs.
- Yoga can prevent and even reverse some of the most obvious and visible symptoms of osteoporosis and aging. This is because yoga poses encourage concavity of your spine, instead of a convex humped shape. Note that decreased height is usually not the result of bone loss. Most times, years of inadequate or poor posture coupled with lack of stretching may also make you shorter than you once were. In addition, some height loss may result from the gradual shrinking of spaces between your vertebral disks, even if your bone density is great. This is where yoga does wonders as it helps keep the space between your vertebrae open, supple and plump.
- While building strength, many yoga poses improve mobility in your hips and shoulders and at the same time, remove stiffness in your joints, and bring more flexibility to your whole body.
- Weight bearing through your upper spine and arms in poses like Downward-Facing Dog as well as Handstands and various other inversions (weight-bearing) keep your upper spine strong and supple. Keep in mind that upper-body weight-bearing yoga poses are especially beneficial in preventing the onset of hairline fractures in your vertebrae which result in upper-back curvatures common in old people.
- If weight loss is your goal, more intense styles of Yoga such as Power Yoga can help you achieve your desired body weight. That’s right. Yoga helps burn calories which means you no longer have to resort to fat freezing or liposuction to get rid of excess fat.
Yoga Poses for Better Bone Health
This is a great pose and is therapeutic for osteoporosis. It helps to stretch your chest, back, and neck. To get the best results you should stay in this pose for one minute (at least) to stretch your spine and chest. And if you need a little more support, you can place a block or book under your back.
2.Seated Twisting Pose
This is easily one of the most effective poses in yoga for strong and healthy bones.
This yoga pose exerts pressure on your spine. It also helps in stimulating bone production and is remarkably efficient in relaxing your neck and back, while helping improve bone health. Keep in mind that the milder twists can help stretch your back while putting minimal pressure on your vertebrae.
This is another iconic yoga pose for strong and healthy bones. It is incredibly popular.
By holding this yoga pose for about one minute you can get stronger bones while stretching the core muscle groups and relaxing your mind at the same time. Isn’t that great!
The locust pose, also known as the grasshopper pose, is a great exercise for your back and your legs. Also, it helps strengthen the bones. To do this yoga pose, start by elevating your upper torso and legs. Hold the pose for about ten seconds and then repeat it three times.
The locust pose can also help relieve you of that nagging back pain.
5.Extended Triangle Pose
This yoga pose is easy to perform and has several amazing benefits. This pose helps improve spine flexibility and also relieves gastritis. The pose helps stretch your whole body gently while helping strengthen your bones and lower body.
Based on what has been learned so far, there is no doubt that practicing yoga helps strengthen bones. That would certainly add to what most of us already know regarding yoga’s many benefits on emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.