Pilates and Osteoporosis

Lynda, I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and I am considering Pilates mat training for exercise. Are there any specific exercises I should avoid that would potentially injure me? It seems to me that rocking on your spine could be problematic. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you, Diana

Dear Diana,
Pilates can in fact be wonderful for osteoporosis under a well trained teacher who really knows osteoporosis exercise guidelines and how to modify the traditional exercises.

Traditional Pilates mat contains mostly exercises that are contra-indicated for osteoporosis, so your instincts are right on this issue. Before you start and exercise program take a look at my article on Pilates & Osteoporosis.

The majority of the Pilates mat is on your back and in forward flexion, both of which are extremely risky for you. remember, once you have a fracture in the vertebrae you will be in pain, it will be harder to stand up straight, and you will be at greater risk for morefractures! Plus, most Pilates teachers (and most people generally) do not know enough about exercise guidelines for osteoporosis, so you need to be particularly careful.

You want primarily standing work, balance work, and torso/spinal extension work.

There is a book out called OsteoPilates

which outlines guidelines and home programs and is available at most bookstores.

Standing Pilates and private equipment Pilates sessions with someone who knows about osteoporosis would be beneficial. Try to find a PhysicalMind Institute certified teacher/studio in your area and then see if they know the standing work or the osteoporosis modifications, both of which PMI teaches as part of certification and continuing education.

I have seen clients who fractured vertebrae in other Pilates studios. So take this seriously and be careful!