When you hear the word osteoporosis, what comes to mind? Do you envision a little old lady who can hardly walk? Most people still believe that osteoporosis is a disease that only affects the elderly, but that’s not always true.
As a personal trainer, you have the responsibility to educate your clients on ways to prevent osteoporosis and maintain proper health. If you already have clients with osteoporosis, then you know how important it is for them to perform weight-bearing exercises.
If you are new to the niche, then it’s equally important that you become familiar with the disease. By doing so, you also have an opportunity to take on more clients by promoting bone-building techniques with your personal training services.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become softer. Healthy bone has a honeycomb-like appearance when viewed under a microscope. When someone develops osteoporosis, the spaces within the bone become much larger.
Osteoporotic bone often loses density and contains abnormal tissue structure.
When the quality and density of bone is decreased, it eventually becomes fragile and porous, which increases the risk of fracture. Typically, there are no precursors to the disease, and there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs.
Worldwide, one out of every three females and approximately one out of every five males are at risk of developing an osteoporotic fracture. Having osteoporosis means you are more likely to suffer a fracture due to lost density and bone mass.
Since osteoporosis is a silent disease, the first symptom is typically a fracture. But what are the risk factors for developing osteoporosis?
Since bone density peaks around 30 years old, weight-bearing exercises and strength training are vital. When bone density starts to diminish, you also need to make sure your diet is rich in vitamin D and calcium, which keeps bones strong as you get older.
– Family History
Osteoporosis also tends to run in families, so if one of your parents was diagnosed, you could develop the disease as well. Your family physician can perform routine testing to check for any nutritional deficiencies you may have and prescribe supplements as needed.
Living a sedentary lifestyle, particularly sitting for more than four hours a day, is one of the primary causes of osteoporosis. As we get older, we need to place vertical forces on our skeletal system to maintain proper bone health. Lack of regular exercise, which includes weight training, increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Even though both men and women can develop osteoporosis, postmenopausal women over the age of 50 are more likely to develop osteoporosis. In addition to a positive family history and sedentary lifestyle, other medical risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
Premature menopause, low body weight, and thyroid disease all increase the risk of osteoporosis in women. Men may be at higher risk for osteoporosis if they suffer from low levels of testosterone, malabsorption disorders, and thyroid disease.
Other medical and non-medical risk factors include and are not limited to:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of vitamin D
- Menstrual irregularities in young adults
Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World.
Personal Training and Osteoporosis
There are many different modalities for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The information below is designed to help you understand the differences and give you an idea of how to create safe exercise programs for all of your clients.
– Helping Clients Prevent Osteoporosis
The routines you create for your clients may already involve weight-bearing exercises, which are vital in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercises are any types of exercise that work against gravity.
These exercises include:
It’s never too early to start preventing osteoporosis. Young adults are encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle and perform at least 60 minutes of weight-bearing activity every day. Participation in sports during childhood and teenage years is recommended.
In addition to regular exercise, consume a healthy diet enriched with calcium, vitamin D, fresh fruit, and vegetables; and avoid excessive alcohol use. Furthermore, smoking should be avoided, and proper sleeping habits should be implemented.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
As a personal trainer, it’s your job to educate your clients who have osteoporosis. If they’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, creating an exercise plan that incorporates aerobic activity with weight-bearing exercises is key to preventing full-blown osteoporosis.
Encourage clients by reiterating that it’s never too late to start building healthy bones. In only 30 to 60 minutes a day, high-intensity exercise combined with a healthy diet can ward off the ill-effects of osteoporosis.
– Core Strength
A strong core protects even the most agile fitness enthusiast from injury, so teaching core awareness should be at the top of your to-do list. Instruct clients on the proper use of their transverse and oblique muscles while tapping into their core muscles, which include the following:
- The latissimus dorsi
- The intercostals
- The psoas
Osteoporosis and Your Clients
Osteoporosis is a complex disease that we are still learning ways to treat and prevent. As a personal trainer, you need to develop workout routines that benefit all of your clients. They need to be versatile yet personalized. Just as no two clients are the same, neither are their fitness needs. Effective training begins with a complete fitness analysis prior to training.