You rely on strong bones to act as your support system, helping to prevent injury when you are active. However, conditions such as osteopenia, can signify that your bones are losing density—meaning they may be more vulnerable to breakage. If you experience osteopenia, particularly affected in the lower back, exercises can help to strengthen your body and prevent injury.
Osteopenia is a condition that signifies a person is experiencing symptoms of reduced bone density, according to the University of Michigan Health System. This is cause for concern because osteopenia can be a precursor to osteoporosis, a condition where bone density is compromised, increasing a person’s risk for bone breakage. Osteopenia often remains symptomless until you fracture a bone. This may cause a physician to recommend an imaging scan to test your bone density. If the scan shows weakness in the vertebrae of the lower back, this is known as lumbar osteopenia, signifying the region of five vertebrae in the lower spine. Your physician may recommend exercise for this condition for exercise’s ability to strengthen the lower back and because resistance exercises can help to build bone mass.
Before performing any exercise affecting your spine, it’s important to ensure you are practicing the proper form, according to Dr. Andrew J. Cole, a spine specialist writing on Spine Health. To accomplish this position, your head should rest over your shoulders, with your shoulder pulled slightly back. Your pelvis should be tucked in, falling in line with your body’s trunk. This position should be adopted while you are exercising, which allows you to maintain your center of gravity while preventing a lower back injury.
Because lumbar osteopenia causes low back pain, exercises to stretch and strengthen the spine can help to relieve pain, according to Dr. Kate Lindemann, writing on the Osteopenia3 website. Begin by lying on your stomach — you can place a pillow under your pelvis for support. Straighten your arms on either side of your body, keeping your palms facing upward. Slowly raise your shoulders upward as if someone is pulling on them. You should feel your lower back tighten. Slowly lower your body to the ground. Repeat the exercise three times. Stand up slowly after completing.
In addition to strengthening your low back, performing weight-bearing exercises can help to increase your bone mass, which can help to reduce the incidence of osteopenia. In order to avoid lumbar pain, it’s important to perform exercises that are weight-bearing, but not too high-impact. The University of Michigan Health System recommends activities such as walking and stair climbing be performed on a daily basis.
While exercise can be beneficial to osteopenia sufferers, it also can put you at risk for injury. Be sure to clear your exercise program with your physician prior to beginning. Ask your physician if any activities place you at higher risk for fractures or other injuries. He may recommend imaging scans to view the full extent of your bone mass loss.