July 2014

Bone Health

Photo showing skeletal effects of osteoporosis

Having and maintaining bones that are healthy allow for strength and an active lifestyle at any age. Bone loss and fracture can be avoided in old age if good bone health is maintained earlier on. Maintaining bone health can be achieved by having an active lifestyle, eating a balanced diet that includes calcium and vitamin D. Having good posture is something physical therapists recommend for achieving good bone health. Safe movements will protect bones during daily activities. Proper posture and using safe body mechanics allows you to avoid injury. To maintain bone health as a result of good posture, follow these tips:

  • Keep your back, stomach, and leg muscles strong and flexible.
  • Keep your body in alignment, so it can be more efficient when you move.
  • Do not slouch. When sitting, keep your spine and head straight. Put a small pillow behind your waist to keep your spine in a good position.
  • Use good body positioning at work, home, or during leisure activities.
  • When lifting or bending forward, bend your knees, keep your back straight, bend forward at the hip crease, and lift with your legs. Keep the load close to your body.
  • Ask for help or use an assistive device to lift heavy objects.
  • Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen. Staying active can help to prevent injuries.

Photo comparing healthy bone with osteoporosis

What happens when someone doesn’t have good bone health? The disease that most often affects bone health is osteoporosis. As bone mass decreases, and bone structure thins, bones become fragile and are more susceptible to breaking. Although healthy habits and exercise decrease one’s risk for developing osteoporosis, certain risk factors cannot be changed. Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Age: More common in older individuals
  • Sex: More common in women
  • Family History: Heredity
  • Race and Ethnicity: Affects all races. In the US, increased risk for Caucasian, Asian, or Latino
  • Weight: Low body weight (small and thin)
  • Diet, especially one low in calcium and vitamin D
  • History of broken bones
  • Menopause
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Certain medications, diseases, and other medical conditions

By designing individualized exercise programs, physical therapists can help prevent osteoporosis or treat its effects. These exercise programs not only benefit bone health, but they also enhance balance and stability and improve posture. For more information about bone health and osteoporosis visit: https://nof.org/

Summer Gardening

Photo showing proper lifting technique in the garden

During the warmer months, everyone wants to be that picture perfect house on the block. Many people garden to have the best yard, and grow delicious food for their families. To avoid injuring the neck, back, shoulders, and knees use these guidelines while you garden:

  • Warm up before you begin Take a 10-minute walk and stretch your upper and lower back, neck, arms and legs.
  • Don’t over do it. If you experience an aching back or neck, slow down and stretch or stop and switch to a different task.
  • Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move tools and heavy planting materials. Don’t kneel on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground to give your back more stability. If you have to kneel use knee pads or a pillow to absorb some of the pressure.
  • Change positions frequently to avoid stiffness or cramping.
  • Practice proper body mechanics. Bend at your knees when you grab something or pull a weed, bend your knees and contract your abdominal muscles to avoid straining your back.
  • End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or shower to help prevent next-day soreness.
  • If you experience pain, contact your physical therapist.

Last month, Dr. Aisha Ryan held a special ergonomics clinic for the staff at Delaware Smile Center. The presentation focused on proper posture at the workstation, and using safe body mechanics to perform work-related tasks, to reduce the risk of injury and chronic pain.

Chart showing proper ergonomics at office workstation