Pilates for Bone health

Why Pilates?

A recent study in 2015 by Endera et al showed that people who participated in Pilates saw an increase in their Bone Mineral Density (BMD), as well as improvements in their physical performance and their quality of life. That’s good enough for me…

Resistance Training

Progressive resistance training to strengthen the muscles that ‘pull’ on bones and weight bearing exercises to ‘Load’ bones will cause structural strain to which the body responds by adaptation. This will only occur if the load is sufficient to exceed the training threshold. This is different for each of us but in basic terms the last couple of repetitions of an exercise should feel difficult. As movements get easier the resistance is increased; the frequency and duration of training can also be manipulated to enhance the effects and finally variety is important to prevent us reaching a plateau.


Balance Training

Falls are a major cause of fractures, the risk of falling increases as we get older. Poor balance can be due to loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility, but also reduced vision, slower reaction times and even inner ear dysfunction (labyrinthitis, BPPV etc). Anyone who has tried ‘SUP YOGA’ knows their balance is ‘not as good as it used to be’. The ACSM exercise prescription guidelines (2011) recommend:

  • Dynamic movements which disturb the centre of gravity: moving arms about whilst balancing on 1 leg!
Swimming on Balance pads
  • Reducing sensory input: this could be as simple as closing your eyes whilst balancing.

Posture and Back Care

As a Chartered Physiotherapist this is a ‘non-negotiable’ for me and what I love about Pilates is that we combine the principles of ideal posture and alignment into every movement we make. Not only that but by activating the stabilising muscles of the lumbar spine and pelvis as we move; this actually serves to support and protect the spine.


Are there any exercises that we should avoid?

The guidance issued by the Royal Osteoporosis Society suggests that there is some conflicting advice around exercises or movements that should be avoided. Remember that even with a diagnosis of osteoporosis we still need to be able to reach our feet! and that ‘bending is generally safe unless you overflex or push yourself to the limit’.

Avoid moves which involve putting pressure on your spine



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Phillipa Butler

Phillipa Butler

Chartered Physiotherapist. Passionate about movement as medicine. Using pilates and yoga to mitigate the symptoms of the menopause. Contact hi@precizion.co.uk