Exercise to support Bones, Balance, Flexibility, Strength, Coordination
Are you looking to keep your bones healthy and strong? Have you been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis? Do you want to improve your posture, balance, flexibility and co-ordination to reduce the risk of falling?
I offer Yoga for Bones and Functional Pilates classes that support healthy bones and as well as your general fitness and health. These classes are suitable for anyone with osteopenia or early osteoporosis. Anyone with severe osteoporosis please contact me for one-on-one classes.
“The gentle yoga for bones class makes me feel more confident about keeping healthy, fit and happy with osteoporosis – it’s a game changer!” Julie
About 3 Million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis. Bone is a living tissue and is affected by lifestyle, diet and exercise. Certain illnesses and medication can also affect our bones. Women are more likely to be affected by osteoporosis. Hormones are partly to blame: Women lose bone mass in menopause and also when they breastfeed.
Exercise is important for healthy bones at any age. When we are young we need to exercise to stimulate bone growth and in later life we need exercise to improve agility, strength, posture and balance and to reduce the risk of falls and fractures. I can advise you on exercise, diet and lifestyle to support your bone health. However, once you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have had a stress fracture (even if you have not yet been diagnosed) you will also need medical treatment. Exercise, diet and vitamin D alone will not be sufficient in that case. Yet exercise is still important as it can reduce your risk of falls and fractures.
Contact me for more information or to book either a one-to-one session with me or to join one of my bone health classes: I run a weekly Gentle Yoga for Bones class (Wednesdays 9-9.45), two functional standing Pilates and gentle weights classes and two chair plus falls prevention classes that are suitable and beneficial for those with bone density issues (Monday and Friday mornings 9-9.45 and 9.50-10.35). I also offer pre-recorded short exercise classes that offer relaxing, calm movements as well as somatic classes that are designed for relaxing and sleeping. Stress and lack of sleep has been linked to osteoporosis. Please note: those with severe osteoporosis should book a one-to-one session with me before joining a class or signing up to the pre-recorded classes.
The classes focus on improving postural stability, functional alignment and balance and include exercise practices which are thought to improve bone density, such as low level resistance and weights(3) as well as gentle vibration(4). Below is a little more detail about each.
My personal story: My maternal grandmother had a dowager’s hump. As osteoporosis can run in families, I decided to write my dissertation on osteoporosis. Although my university degree in Health Science was mainly about nutrition and herbs, I realised that exercise – albeit with a healthy diet and lifestyle – was the answer. I tried to implement all the good practice that I had researched – and yet I developed osteopaenia following cancer treatment. I was shocked as I had exercised regularly, had a healthy diet, didn’t smoke…. I realised that I am not alone: fit, high level athletes are often as much affected as post-menopausal women (or those with certain medical issues, in my case the cancer medication). So I went back to the drawing-board and started to train in exercise that particularly supports healthy bones. My classes include practices that have been shown to be beneficial for those with osteoporosis: Yoga, weights and resistance training, balance and falls prevention exercises, functional fitness, Buff Bones Pilates and Bones for Life. The latter two are methods specifically developed for bones.
Gentle Yoga for Healthy Bones Class
Wednesday mornings 9-9.45
A general level, mostly standing functional Yoga class that includes gentle standing Yoga poses, “functional” exercises and some movement from Bones for Life to improve balance, strength and co-ordination.
Breath work, visualisation and relaxation are also part of this class as medical studies suggest that bone is involved in stress response(5). This class leaves out those asanas and practices which are contraindicated for those with reduced bone density.
Joan Vernikos, who researched bone loss for the American space agency, NASA, for many years rates Yoga highly for bones as Yoga addresses those issues that, according to her, are vital for healthy bones: a good upright posture, alignment of the spine, flexibity, stability, balance and a healthy relationship with gravity.
“Kat’s classes enable you to do things you may not have thought possible. Take balancing exercises – after a while you may find you can put your knickers on standing up!” Liz
And Yoga might even increase bone density! A study completed in 2015 suggests that Yoga may actually help to increase bone density in the spine. Although results were not conclusive, a Yoga programme of only 12 Yoga poses seemed to significantly increase of bone density in the spine in those participants who completed the programme(1).
“yoga for better bones for me is one of the natural answers to osteoporosis. The movements are beautiful in their simplicity and yet they are carried out with precision and awareness of the body. Maintaining a straight spine and the slow series of exercises re-enforce my sense of balance and increase confidence in my body” Regine
If you are new to any of my classes, please fill in this health form before joining a class.
To find out more or to book or set up a new class click the link to contact me
Functional Pilates: standing circuit or chair-based classes
Monday and Friday mornings 9-9.45 and 9.50-10.35
These seated and standing classes are ideal for anyone with bone density issues and combine specially adapted Pilates, Yoga and low level weight training with some Bones For Life. These classes are designed to improve posture, functional mobility, stability and balance. They work particularly well for strengthening legs and buttocks, to increase functional abdominal and pelvic floor strength and, like all Pilates classes, are particularly concerned with protecting the lower back, albeit in a vertical plane (ie in standing and sitting). The classes also a focus on controlled rotation to increase range of motion gently involving the whole body and avoiding over-challenging the spine.
Functional Pilates classes are taught online on Monday and Friday mornings 9-9.45 Functional circuit (mostly standing) and 9.50-10.35 (chair-based, Monday mornings only). For Kat’s full class times click here.
To find out more or to book or set up a new class/ one-to-one class click the link to contact me
Bones for Life
Private sessions only: contact me to book
Bones for Life was developed by Ruthy Alon. It is based on the Feldenkrais Method and focuses in particular on those movement teachings that improve body use and functional alignment to protect vulnerable joints, increase postural stability and balance and that may stimulate bone.
Falls prevention is important for anyone with osteoporosis. A study carried out in 2017 found that “Bones for Life increases the stability of organized single-leg stance during movement and successfully carries over into more challenging tasks that require a smaller base of support, like walking, turning, reaching, and climbing”(2).
Bones for Life classes tend to leave you walking out of class with a spring in your step: Learning to walk properly again is an important part of the programme. Ruthy Alon says “When we learn to walk again with a dynamic spring in our step, as humankind has done for centuries, the rhythmic pulsations stimulate growth, fortifying bone tissue in accord with Wolff’s Law”. To re-gain that spring in your step, Bones for Life explores the distribution of pressure in the foot and teaches movement processes that restore springiness in the knees, improve freedom of movement as well as stability of the hip joint and spine.
“I definitely feel some benefits from your incredible insights and grasp of the human anatomy and its need to be kept strong and supple in the latter years especially” Susan
Buff Bones is a Pilates-based medical fitness programme designed specifically for healthy bones. All the Pilates-based exercises have been adapted to make them safe for those with osteoporosis. Classes also include balance exercises and weight training. It’s a great workout too – even if your bone density is normal! Private classes only at present.
If you are new to any of my classes, please fill in this health form before joining a class.
My qualifications related to bone health:
Bones for Life teacher
Buff Bones instructor
Dissertation on Osteoporosis (BSc Health Science)
Level 2 Falls Prevention Awareness
References: (1) Lu et al (2015) Twelve Minute Daily Yoga Routine Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation. (2) Carol A Montogomery, Cynthia M Allen, et al (Summer 2017) Functional Neurology, Rehabilitation, and Ergonomics. Vol 7(2), pp47-61; (3) various studies; (4) Clinton Rubin at Stony Brook; (5) Karsenty et al (2019). Cell Metabolism. Mediation of the Acute Stress Response by the Skeleton