Osteoporosis Tips

There are various exercise programs available to address osteoporosis. However, the most important item to be addressed BEFORE beginning any exercise program is your POSTURE.

If your posture is not corrected, you will actually be increasing your risk for a fracture if you perform exercises that deal with strength-training and walking, all which are part of a complete osteoporosis program.

The following pages will assist you in addressing your posture so any exercise program you perform will not only be safer, but more effective…

Standing Posture

Visualize yourself into being taller, looking better, breathing better, having less pain, and improving digestion and elimination. Practice the following when you walk, stand, and sit. It will gradually become easier to remember and more of a habit if you continue to practice faithfully.

 

1. Drop an imaginary plumb line:
If a straight line were dropped beside your body from the ceiling to the floor, it should pass through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.
2. Think taller:
Pretend you are 2 inches taller than you really are, OR
Pretend that a rope hanging from the ceiling is attached to the crown of your head, pulling you upward (do not tilt your head back) AND
Pretend that another rope is attached to your breastbone, lifting your rib cage.
3

Keep your pelvis level:
Place your hands on top of your hip bones
Pretend your pelvis is a bucket and you must keep the bucket level, so water doesn't spill forward or backward.
***Depending on how you stand, you will either tuck your tailbone under or stick it out. This movement will contract your abdominal and back muscles as they hold the bucket position.

SITTING POSTURE
(“PERCHING”)

Perching: This is not only a method that you can use to develop appropriate posture in sitting, but can also be used as a test of the development of the postural muscles in your back.

  • Sit in a chair with your “sit bones” on the edge.
  • Your hips and knees should be at a 90 degree angle.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor (place support underneath your feet if needed).
  • Do not cross your legs or ankles.
  • Think about your standing posture cues:

    Ears, shoulders, and hips lined up
    2 inches taller
    Bucket (pelvis) level

Using “perching posture” while sitting all the way back in a chair:

  • Remember your posture cues
  • Make sure your feet are supported
  • Place a small towel or other support in the small of the back

Use this method while performing the following activities to see if you are able to maintain better sitting posture:

  • Eating
  • Sitting in church
  • Watching your kids/grandchildren during school events
  • Working on the computer
  • Talking on the phone

Once you have been able to perfect this method and find you can easily hold this position for extended periods, you will automatically find yourself trying to maintain correct posture in any type of chair.

Up and down from a Chair

Many injuries occur just from twisting and pulling during the everyday activity of getting up and down from a chair. Use the following methods to help decrease the risk of injury to muscles and your spine.

GOING DOWN:

  • Back up until you feel the chair against the back of your legs.
  • Spread your feet hip width apart, weight even on both feet.
  • Place your hands on the broadest part of your hips: “hinge point”.
  • Bend at your knees and the hinge point (NOT your waist!).
  • As you SLOWLY sit down, breathe out (Do NOT hold your breath).
  • Keep your neck in a “neutral” position as you lower down.

GOING UP:

  • Move to the edge of the seat (Perch position).
  • If the chair has armrests:
    • Place your hands on them to help push upwards
    • NEVER pull yourself upward with armrests
  • If the chair does not have armrests:
    Stagger the position of your feet: front foot flat on ground, back foot on the ball of the foot.
    • Use the strength of the back foot to help push you upward.
    • Place your hands on your “hinge point,” bending forward from here.
  • As you begin to rise, keep your head in neutral, breathe out.

Different Chairs, same Posture

While a straight-backed chair will help you maintain the best posture and give you the greatest “feedback” about the alignment of your spine, many of the chairs we sit in are soft and cushy, causing the back to conform to the roundness of the chair.

Use the following suggestions to maintain the correct posture, while at the same time enabling you to still enjoy your favorite chair:

  • Remember to relax into the chair, not “crumble” into it.
  • If the seat is deep, place something behind your back.
  • Use additional pillows or cushions as supports to help you maintain correct posture (don’t “slump”).
  • If the chair or sofa has arms, use them to help you stay upright.
  • Support your feet to maintain the 90 degree angle at the hips.

Bedtime Posture

Why think about your posture when you’re sleeping? Because you’ve worked too hard all day long to correct your posture, so why spend eight hours at night bending and twisting your spine?

Use the following guidelines to provide yourself with the support you need during horizontal positions while keeping in mind all the principles you used while standing and sitting:

  • Remember the natural curve of your neck: Provide support at the neck while sleeping. You can spend money on special supports or roll a towel lengthwise and slide it into your pillowcase.
  • Prevent your spine from twisting: By placing pillows between your legs and arms, you provide the support you need to keep your spine in alignment and avoid the dangers of twisting. You can either use separate pillows or buy a large body pillow.
  • Back sleepers: Take the pressure off your lower spine by placing pillows under your knees. You can also roll up a sheet and wrap it around your waist to support your low back, even if you roll over.
  • Stomach sleepers: This position is often the least favored, but there are a few people who insist this is the only way they can sleep. In order to prevent twisting of the neck and spine in this position, consider buying a face support that will allow you to breathe while keeping your neck straight.

Remember that the same rules you must follow for correct posture in standing and sitting also apply to sleeping. Try to envision your spine while you’re in bed: is it well-supported, have you prevented yourself from twisting or flexing/bending forward, and are you comfortable enough to get the good night’s sleep you need.

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This information brought to you by…
New Horizons Physical Therapy

(406) 363-2570 Fax (406) 363-7214

120 S. Fifth Street, Suite 102
Hamilton, MT 59840