Yoga for Osteoporosis and Fracture Prevention – Shifting the Focus to Falls
Osteoporosis affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide. Each year, roughly 4 in 10 women aged 50 or older in the United States will experience a hip, spine, or wrist fracture sometime during the remainder of their lives, according to research.
However, while the thinning bone mass of osteoporosis is considered the most common cause of fractures, we often forget that most fractures are preceded by a fall. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, but falls don’t just lead to fractures, they are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And, falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
Studies comparing elderly people with a fall-related fracture to those without have found that about 25% of elderly with a serious fall die within a year.
Preventing Falls and Fractures – How Yoga Can Help
Falls become increasingly common with age. The increased incidence of falls is due to certain predictable changes in our neuromuscular and cognitive functioning, many of which can be avoided or at the very least slowed.
This is important, because while we hear a lot about the damaging effects of osteoporotic fractures, falls often lead to fractures independent on whether people have osteoporosis or not. A fall is often referred to as a sentinel event, which leads to decreased mobility and a more sedentary lifestyle, which in turn starts a downward spiral of decreasing functionality and increasing frailty.
A key factor in the increased the risk of falls is the loss of balance with age. There are numerous factors that lead to the loss of balance, but the good news is that many of them can be counteracted, and yoga can play a key role in this process, according to studies.
Yoga for Balance Training
The problem with balance training is that it can be very frustrating. Most balance training involves standing on one foot. However, if you can’t balance on one foot, you fall out of the yoga pose, and don’t really benefit from the training.
However, as Ellen Saltonstall shows in the video below, training balance involves a lot more than just balancing on one foot. Balancing is really about being able to catch yourself when you trip and fall. And that involves core strength and core stability, i.e. the ability to coordinate between limbs and trunk under challenging circumstances. Watch the yoga video below for just some fun ways to add new dimensions to enhancing your ability to avoid trips and falls.
Also check out our online yoga course with Dr. Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall: