Physiotherapy tip of the month: looking after your bone health.

Posted on: 11 Mar 2022

Physiotherapy tip of the month: looking after your bone health.

March; Bone Health
For this month’s ‘Physiotherapy Tip of the Month’ we will discuss one of the most topical issues in health care: that of bone health. 

One in three women and one in five men in Ireland over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. With up to 300,000 total known cases, it is one of the most prevalent conditions in our country. Osteoporosis affects the inside of bones. It causes bones to lose density and become fragile. This means that they can break more easily. It is called the silent disease because there are no signs or symptoms prior to a person breaking bones. Osteoporosis in itself is not a painful condition. 

Osteopenia is the early stage of bone loss and could be classified as a mild form of osteoporosis. It is important to diagnose and manage osteopenia at this stage to help reduce your risk of developing Osteoporosis.

Any bone in the body can be susceptible to loss of bone density; however, the most common bones to fracture are the bones in your wrist, your hip bones, and the bones in your back. Osteoporosis is problematic as even a low trauma trip or fall can result in broken bones. As the disease advances even somewhat trivial movements like bending over or even sneezing can even lead to bony injury. 

So what can be done to prevent or manage Osteoporosis? Research has shown that the most effective management plan involves intervention from several healthcare disciplines; these include Rheumatology consultants, dietetics, radiology and physiotherapy. Here at the Bon Secours Hospital in Tralee, we are proud to be able to say that we can offer each of these services under the one roof; ensuring quality and timely care. Our consultant rheumatologist, Ms Catriona Buckley works closely with our team of radiologists for the initial scans and diagnosis, and then with the team of dieticians and physiotherapists to formulate a management plan.

Here in the physiotherapy department, we advocate for appropriate and structured exercise as an essential component of improving your bone health. This is supported by numerous research studies which have found that it is both safe and beneficial to exercise with conditions such as osteoporosis.

There are four main elements that any bone health exercise plan should address and they are as follows:
Strong! Doing resistance has been shown to strengthen both your muscles and bones. When you work a muscle hard it will respond by getting bigger and stronger and this will have a similar affect on the bones that it attaches to. Stronger muscles will also decrease your chances of falling and injuring yourself. Your strength training programme should address all your major muscle groups and be suitably challenging! 

Steady! It is beneficial to include exercises that improve your balance to decrease your risk of falling. These exercises should be individualised and appropriate for your level of mobility. Some examples of balance exercises include standing in a ‘step stance’ position with your eyes closed. For all balance exercises, it is a good idea to have a solid support available to hold if required!

Straight! Those with more advanced osteoporosis can develop postural abnormalities. A common presentation of this is an excessive ‘stoop’ or ‘kyphosis’ in the upper back. For these people, focusing on exercises to strengthen the back muscles and help with maintain posture is advisable. These exercises should be ‘low-load’ and ‘high repetition’ exercises to target your postural muscles. It is also beneficial to practice the correct technique for moving and lifting in order to reduce the risk of vertebral fracture or pain.

Move! Keeping active and moving instead of long periods of inactivity is the best way of looking after both your bone and general health. It is recommended that adults should get at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week). For maximising your bone strength this should include some weight bearing or impact exercises. For a more active person, this could include low level jumping, jogging, dancing or hopping. For an adult who is frailer, less mobile or has more advanced osteoporosis, lower impact exercises such as walking are advisable. 

If you have concerns about your bone health; please contact us at the Bon Secours Hospital Tralee. Depending on the stage of your condition, we will ensure that you meet the professionals most appropriate for your care. For appointments or further information please call 066-7149864 or email

At the Bon Secours Hospital in Tralee, all of our physiotherapists are Chartered and are CORU Registered. We are continually training and upskilling so we can provide expert care for Sports Injuries, Pain Management, Vestibular Rehabilitation, Bone Health and Osteoporosis.

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