Improve Bone Density and Joint Mobility with Pilates!
There is no detour around the aging process. The fact is, as we age we lose bone mass (Osteopenia) and conditions like Arthritis result in pain and decreased flexibility in the joints. This is the natural aging process, but there are some things you can do to make it easier and even delay it a bit. Osteopenia is caused when bone breaks down faster than it is made. Bones become thinner and more porous which leads to increased risk of fracture and eventually can progress to Osteoporosis. Arthritis is inflammation and stiffness and sometimes structural changes in the joints which is not only painful, but limits mobility.
So what can you do? The answer is simple: Pilates!
Pilates is extremely beneficial for both conditions. Pilates is resistance exercise. Whether you are using your own body weight, a resistance band, magic circle or the Reformer, the exercises used in the Pilates method can help rebuild and strengthen bone and increase mobility in the joints.
Pilates is low impact so you are getting the full benefits of resistance training without adding undo stress to the joints and bones you are trying to protect. The focus of Pilates is to strengthen the core. Once you have a strong core, you put less pressure on the joints and bones when you move, because you are moving from your center. Balance is improved and weight and force are distributed more evenly as you perform daily activities.
The lengthening of the muscles as a result of performing Pilates exercises can also alleviate muscle soreness in the joints for Arthritis sufferers. Because there is a lot of stretching and focus on breathing in Pilates, blood flow is increased and better circulation is achieved which can also alleviate discomfort associated with joint issues. Having more mobility in the joints can greatly improve the quality of life for someone with arthritis because of more freedom of movement.
There is a caveat though. As with any exercise program, you should consult with your physician before beginning with Pilates, especially if you currently have Arthritis or if you have progressed to Osteoporosis. Forward flexion exercises or any exercises where the spine is loaded are to be avoided with Osteoporosis as they can result in spinal fracture. But do not be deterred! There are an infinite number of other exercises in the Pilates repertoire that you can do!