Pilates exercises - modifications with osteoporosis

Pilates is beneficial for helping to maintain bone strength, improving muscle strength and balance, as well as helping with pain and posture. But there are some exercises where you may ‘over flex’ your spine if you push yourself to the limits.

This is especially true with uncontrolled, repetitive or sudden forward movements or if you are putting some load or strain on your spine in a curved position. This could put uneven pressure on the front parts of your spine which may increase your risk of a spinal fracture.

Generally, Pilates is very safe and isn’t going to cause a spinal fracture. However, to be on the safe side, using alternative moves that keep your back straight or allow you to bend in a controlled and comfortable way will help to reduce the risk of injuring your back.

To practise these exercises, you can follow the video above, or download the accompanying fact sheet.

These recommendations are for you if:

  • you have had a diagnosis of osteoporosis or are at increased risk of fracture and want to ensure Pilates exercises are safe and won’t cause a spinal fracture
  • you are looking to find out if you need to modify or avoid some exercises because you have had spinal fractures
  • you have broken bones easily in the past

Bones lose strength as we get older, so whether you have had previous fractures or not, this information is useful to anyone over the age of 50 - to help reduce the chance of future injury and pain.

When and how:

For exercises in Pilates that risk ‘over flexing’ the spine, follow these instructions to help you adapt your technique.

Move in a smooth, controlled way during and between all Pilates exercises, and move within your comfort range.

These are some of the Pilates exercises that you ask about, with explanations on what they are for and whether you need to amend the move or use an alternative.

Before you start

For an introduction to the different ways that exercise and physical activity help with bone health and osteoporosis, read the About exercise fact sheet. It can help you think about how the benefits apply to you, and whether you should prioritise any single type of exercise.

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