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Exercises for strong bones

health and fitness Updated: Dec 12, 2009 13:05 IST
Heath Matthews
Heath Matthews
Hindustan Times
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I am a 68-year-old with osteoporosis (minus 4.6 in forearms and minus 2.5 in legs). I take medication for it daily, including Shelcal 500 mg and Bonista injection. I also eat a calcium-rich diet. Despite that, my hip bones hurt when I sit and I get a burning sensation on the soles of my feet. Please advise me about stretching exercises and sources of Vitamin K.
Bhagwat Saxena

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose density and strength due to the leaching of calcium from them. But you can counter this process with diet and exercise. Fish, dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt and soya products are the highest sources of calcium. Natural foods are a better source of calcium than supplements.

Exercise helps treat osteoporosis because when we resist the forces of gravity during exercise we put loading forces through our body that encourage our bones to absorb calcium. Start with these exercises in the safety and comfort of your own home:

Double leg bridge
1. Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your arms flat on the floor at your sides with your palms down.
2. Squeeze your buttock muscles and push your hips into the air as high as you can.
3. Lower your hip and return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions to begin with and build up to 30 reps for each set.
4. As you progress, you can try doing this while balancing on one leg.
The double leg bridge works your hip joints, while strengthening your buttock, back and upper thigh.

Prone Bridge Hold
1. Lie face down on a mat with your body in a straight line. Raise your body off the floor with only your elbows and knees on the ground and your toes in the air. Keep your back flat.
2. Hold the contraction for 15 seconds and complete 3 sets of 4 reps at a time. Every second day, increase length of the hold by 3 seconds.
The prone bridge isolates your core muscles while putting load through your upper body and legs safely. It helps in the maintenance of healthy core muscles which protect your back, another area at risk in osteoporosis.

Lunge Stretch
This stretch will help you counter a painful hip.
1. Bend your left knee at a 90 degree angle and keep your right lower leg flat along the floor.
2. Keep the pelvis neutral by tightening your lower abdominal muscles and slowly lean forward. You will feel the stretch in the front of your right hip. Hold for 34 seconds and do 2 sets on alternate legs.
Resistance training is an excellent way to fight the effects of ageing on your bones and keep them healthy.

Matthews is a physiotherapist with the Mittal Champions Trust