Siobhan Byrne... Improve your posture with tougher bones
Strength training will stop you slouching and help fight off osteoporosis
As most people who read my articles will know, I am a diehard strength-training advocate. It keeps me in good shape, makes me feel strong and sculpts the body. But these are merely a few of the reasons why you should consider it.
Stronger bones and improved posture and balance are direct side-effects of strength training. On top of this, it prevents bones from thinning, something I will be discussing over the next fortnight.
Many people ask me if strength training can help people with osteopenia or osteoporosis. The simple answer is a big yes. You may even remember me saying in the past that strength training is one of the main things you should do to promote bone health.
Weight training can protect your bones, help prevent against osteoporosis-related fractures and help protect against bone density loss.
The best way to think if it is in simple terms. Your muscles keep the bones strong and help them to remain erect, especially in the back. If your muscles are weak, there will be little to no support for your bones. Training puts pressure on the bones, which encourages them to develop and become stronger and thus less susceptible to nasty breaks.
Osteopenia can cause many problems, mostly commonly the slumped back that causes people so much pain and irritation. This is caused by poor posture, which is in turn caused by your upper back muscles becoming too weak and your chest muscles too tight. For your shoulders to be pulled back, you need to start strengthening your upper back muscles and stretching out the chest muscles. A good remedy you can try at home is the door frame stretch. Simply line your elbows and hands up with a doorframe, step through until you feel a pinch and then hold for 20 seconds. Another good exercise is the plank, which you can easily do in your home.
In general, you should think of your core muscles as akin to the foundations of a house. If the foundations are weak, things on top will be well supported. The same can be said of the body. If the core is weak, how can me expect anything to be strong and powerful?
Listed on the right of the page are four strength training exercises you should include in your routine. With a little effort, they can help work wonders.
Exercises... focus on bones
1/ Start by lying on your elbows, forearms and toes, with your body straight with your hips, and your back in line and tummy tucked in. Hold the position in place for 15-30 seconds, then slowly rest down.
1/ Start by standing upright (you can do this exercise with dumbbells to make it tougher) with your arms straight.
2/Take a step forward into a lunge, dropping your back knee towards the floor and keeping the dumbbells (if using them) by your side. Push off the front foot to return to start position, then alternate the legs.
Squat/ upright row
1/ Start with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell held by both hands in between your legs.
2/Squat down, keeping your back flat when you return to start position, then raise the kettlebell by bending your elbows towards the ceiling holding the kettlebell in front of the body, all the while keeping it away from your face.
Bent rear delt raise
1/ Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and bend over at the waist while holding dumbbells with your arms straight and palms facing in.
2/ Raise the dumbbells up and outward to shoulder height, keeping your back flat. Bend your elbows slightly as you lift if necessary.
Health & Living