When I was first told I had osteoporosis, I feared something I’d never been scared of before: falling. Suddenly, a simple trip or stumble could (I thought) result in a devastating fracture.
I quickly learned that there’s no reason to live in fear. Instead, I took action to regain that confident posture and gait I had when I was younger. And you can, too, when you practice bone-strengthening and balance-enhancing exercises like today’s challenge.
Why: Overcoming the fear of falling begins with addressing the muscle groups that hold you upright and improving your coordination and balance. And as you do this, the bones most prone to fracture will get stronger and you’ll feel more stable
Today’s exercise offers these multiple benefits. The Swinging Balance And Coordination Enhancer targets the muscle groups in your legs, from hip to ankle, rejuvenating the bones in these key areas as well. In addition, this exercise tones your core, a vital group of muscles in your center that hold you upright and influence just about every motion. Plus today’s exercise improves your balance and coordination.
Stronger Leg Bones
I mentioned that the Swinging Balance And Coordination Enhancer strengthens your legs. When it comes to preventing fractures, there are three main areas of concern in the leg area: the hips, femur, and ankle.
The ankle is a beautifully articulated joint, but range of motion means a bit of compromise with regard to stability. So the ankle needs special attention to increase strength and flexibility so you can recapture that spring in your step.
This exercise also strengthens the femur, a strong bone that you may not associate with fracture. But the top of the femur has a vulnerable area – the femoral neck, where the ball of the hip joint forms. Bisphosphonates (like Boniva, Fosamax, and others) greatly increase fracture risk in this area. This particular type of fracture is called atypical, because it’s not normal for a bone to simply snap while doing everyday activities.
Fractures typically occur because of force and angle of impact. In Chapter 2 of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, I discuss why so many people “fail” bone density tests, and point out that:
“Like any solid object, regardless of the ‘quality’, all bones will break when hit in a certain way. Low or high bone density is not a determining factor.”
That’s all the more reason to prevent falls, and to shift the focus to a key quality of young bones: tensile strength. That’s ultimately what prevents fractures, and exercises like today’s challenge enhance tensile strength and muscle tone.
Core Muscle Strength
If you watch a baby learn to sit up for the first time, it’s not only funny; it’s also an education in the development of the core muscles. Babies can’t balance in a sitting position until those muscles are strong enough, which usually happens around six months of age.
From that first sit-up, your body’s balance and upright position depend on the proper function of your core, which the Swinging Balance And Coordination Enhancer strengthens. These central muscle groups are crucial in keeping balance and preventing falls.
Now I want to introduce you to this wonderful exercise. Like all of the Weekend Challenges and the exercises in the Densercise™ Epidentisy Training System, you don’t need any special equipment.
How: Stand in front of a wall, chair, or other stable surface you can hold onto. For the sake of clarity, we’re going to start with the left leg and right arm, so you’ll need to hold on to the chair or wall with your left hand.
- Swing your left leg out and bend your right knee into a squatting position. Do not bend your left knee.
- At the same time as you swing your leg and bend your knee, swing your right arm out and up, to slightly above your shoulder.
- Now bring your right arm back down and across the front of your body, straighten your right knee, and swing your left leg inward, across the front of your right leg.
- Repeat 10 times or as many times as you can, then switch sides and do another set of 10 (or as many as you can).
- Continue doing sets of 10 and switching sides until you’ve done 3 sets of 10 on each side (as always, it’s okay to work up to this).
If you’ve mastered the above moves, and your balance is in top shape, then you can try the advanced version.
The only difference in the advanced version is that you don’t hold on to anything. It’s wise to be near enough to something stable to catch yourself, but simply perform the exercise as described above with your left arm free.
More Exercises To Improve Balance
When I wrote the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, I had more than just bone density in mind. Of course, Densercise™ is designed to target and increase bone density; but it’s so much more than that.
I wanted to present exercises that include balance, because that is so crucial to preventing falls and fractures. As I pointed out above, even if your bones are dense and strong they can still break if you have a bad fall.
So when you get the fully-illustrated Densercise™ manual, you’ll find a rich variety of exercises that you can do at your own pace. It only takes 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week – but you can Densercise™ every day if you like.
Keep walking tall!