Osteoporosis Exercises for Spine Strength and Posture
Preventing an Osteoporosis-Related Fracture
When you have osteoporosis, preventing bone fractures should be at the top of your health care list.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Low bone density, or osteoporosis, weakens your bones, making them more vulnerable to fractures when they're strained from an accident like a fall or even a jarring movement that wouldn’t cause a problem in a person with healthy bones.
The increased risk of fractures that comes with osteoporosis can be especially dangerous if you are an older person. Older adults who fracture a hip have a 5 to 20 percent increased risk of death during the first year after their injury compared to others their age. And up to 25 percent of hip fracture patients who lived independently before they broke their hips will require care in an institution a year later.
So while it's important for everyone to prevent fractures, it's especially important for those who have osteoporosis to take steps to reduce their risk of falls, accidents, and fractures.
Steps to Prevent Bone Fractures
The most important steps you can take to protect your bones and prevent a fracture include:
Reduce your risk of falling.Falls account for 90 percent of hip fractures. Try these tips to lessen your risk of falling:
- Use a cane or walker if you need it to stabilize yourself.
- Wear boots with rubber soles in bad weather.
- Take extra care when walking on slippery floors (for example, marble or tile).
- Use delivery services in your area during bad weather so you don't have to go out.
- Be cautious when walking around curbs or stairs.
- Keep your floors as clutter-free as possible.
- Use skid-proof backing on carpets and rugs.
- Place cords and wires out of areas where you walk.
- Install handrails on both sides of all stairwells.
- Install grab bars in showers and tubs, and beside toilets.
- Place a rubber mat in the shower or tub.
- Use bright lighting in your home and on walkways outside your home.
Improve your balance.As you age, your reflexes slow down, which can make it more difficult to keep your balance. But you can maintain and improve your balance by doing exercises to strengthen your muscles, seeing an eye doctor regularly to correct any vision problems, and practicing the following balancing exercises while holding onto the back of a chair or a countertop (if your doctor approves):
- Stand on one leg, then the other.
- Try balancing on one leg without holding on to something (though you should do this near a stable chair or counter in case you do lose your balance).
- Try balancing on one leg with your eyes closed (hold on to the chair or counter in front of you).
- Stand on your toes, then lower your heels, and repeat.
- Circle your hips one way, then the other, without moving your shoulders or feet.
- Exercise regularly.Talk to your doctor about what types of exercise might be safe for you. Exercising regularly can increase your bone density, reducing your risk of fracture.
- Talk with your doctor about your current medications.Some blood pressure and heart medications, diuretics, muscle relaxants, and tranquilizers have been associated with an increased risk of falling. If you're taking medications, talk with your doctor about how they impact your risk. There may be alternatives that would not increase your risk of falling.
- Talk to your doctor about medication for your osteoporosis.If you are not already on one, your doctor may want to start you on an osteoporosis medication, such as a bisphosphonate (Fosamax, Alendronate, or Boniva) to decrease bone loss.
- Eat a healthful diet.Experts recommend consuming 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 International Units of vitamin D each day. Talk with your doctor about any additional supplements you may need.
Having osteoporosis can be frightening, but don't let it stop you from enjoying your life. Staying active can ultimately help reduce your risk of falling and fractures. So talk with your doctor about the steps you should take to prevent fractures and improve your quality of life.
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