Bones provide support for our body and protect us and our vital organs. But, as we age, the bone density tends to increase and, in more severe cases, even lead to osteoporosis, making people more prone to injury and fracture.
The good news is, we can prevent these injuries and improve the health of our musculoskeletal system even in the later years of our life.
Best Low Impact Exercises
Since people over 35 are more prone to injury, we`ve found that it is best to start out with the implementation of the “lower impact” exercises to enhance the mobility and flexibility of the joints and then, if necessary, move on to more challenging routine.
Our goal is to hit as much joints as possible and “get the juices flowing” all around the body. So we will start out with simple head exercises. Ask the patient to stand up and rotate the head to the left, then to the right. Generally, the exercise should be repeated about 5 times to each side. After this is done, ask the patient to tilt the head to the left and to the right, also 5 times on each side.
After the head and neck are done, we will move on to the shoulders. The exercise for shoulders is also simple and pretty straight forward. Depending on the mobility of the patient and the level of flexibility in the joints, ask the patient to either do arm swings (like you do when you run), or do arm circles around the shoulder joint.
Next, we have elbow circles and wrist circles. The both exercises are fairly self explanatory, so we won`t go into much details. Just make sure the patient performs 10-15 rotations.
After the upper body is done, we can address the hip area. I usually combine overhead stretch with side-to-side stretch. Have your patient standing up and ask him/her to interlock their fingers, placing the arms in front of them. Now, ask them to lift their arms above their head (as far as possible) and bend to the left, then to the right and, finally, return to the starting position. The exercise should be repeated 10-15 times, depending on the comfort level of the patient.
After this exercise is completed, finish off with hip, knee and ankle rotation.
We`ve already stated that the bones density decreases as we get older, and if the patient is already diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are some exercises which should be avoided at all cost! Those are:
- Forward bend (touching the toes) – If your patient is presented with osteoporosis, you must never ask him to do a full forward stretch because the pressure may prove to be too much for the lumbar vertebrae to handle, and the fracture may occur
- Sit-ups – Sit-ups are also a big “no-no” when it comes to exercising with osteoporosis, because we, again, put a great deal of pressure to the vertebrae, possibly causing injuries
- Squats – Full squats should be avoided due to the damaging effect they can have on the knee joints and, in some cases, ankles
- Spinal rotation – Rotating your spine around the vertical axis can be very dangerous and cause, not only breaks, but damage to the surrounding nerve and cardiovascular tissue