The A-Z of Pilates - O is for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones and is more common than many people may realise. In fact, it is widely reported that there are around 3 million people in the UK who have this condition. It is where the structure and mass of the bone has deteriorated or ‘thinned’ over time, to such an extent that a fall, or even what could be a considered a simple everyday movement, could cause a fracture. The condition may also cause bone pain, loss of height, imbalances in body alignment and Kyphosis (see my A-Z of Pilates – K is for Kyphosis). 


Practicing healthy lifestyle habits, like eating a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and exercising regularly can be a very important factors in the prevention of Osteoporosis. Exercises that include weight bearing work, as well as those that promote strength, such as Pilates, are both very well recommended activities. Pilates exercise can also be a good exercise option when somebody has already been diagnosed with Osteoporosis. This is because it helps to increase strength and muscle mass so that the body is better able to support bones that have become thin and brittle. It also aids in improving overall balance, which can in turn help to prevent falls that may result in a fracture, and it is superb for flexibility and posture which helps to keep the body in the correct alignment. All in all, the merits of the exercise system could prove to be an excellent part of being able to manage the condition effectively.


That said, it is always recommended that someone with a diagnosis of Osteoporosis should obtain clearance from his or her medical practitioner before starting any programme of exercise, including Pilates. This is because there are certain types of movement and exercises that are best avoided, and in Pilates these would typically include movements such as spinal flexion and rotation e.g. Roll Down, Spine Stretch, Curl Ups or Saw being some of the examples that immediately come to mind. It is also extremely important for an exercise teacher to know and understand the medical advice that has been provided to someone when considering which Osteoporosis safe exercises may be taught during a class or, depending on the severity of the condition, devising a more bespoke and personal programme of exercise that is taught privately.


Exercise for spinal and core strength: The Dart


The Pilates dart exercise is an excellent strengthening exercise for the back extensors and the deep core postural muscles of the body. It strengthens the whole body, does not involve any flexion for the Osteoporosis sufferer and is a great exercise to practice on a daily basis:


IMG 1789


Set up:

  • Lie down on your front on a mat. Your forehead should be on the mat and your arms lying down along the side of the body with the palms facing upwards to the ceiling.
  • Your legs are straight but relaxed with heels dropped outwards to the side and the toes touching.
  • Your shoulders are naturally rolling forwards towards the mat.
  • Connect through the centre of the body by gently drawing your abdominal muscles away from the mat.


  • Breathe in and on your exhale of breath draw your legs and heels together to connect your inner thighs and activate your glute (bottom) muscles.
  • Lengthen your arms away towards your feet drawing the shoulders away from the mat and your shoulder blades down your back turning the palms of your hands to face your thighs.
  • Lift the head and chest a few inches away from the mat keeping your gaze down and the back of your neck long.
  • Hold for a few seconds and then relax back down to your starting position.

Hints and tips:

  • When executing the exercise imagine a piece of string drawing your chest away from the floor from the middle of the shoulder blades – the  top of your head is the ‘point’ of your dart and your body is long and streamlined.
  • Keep the lift in the abdominal to avoid any compression of the spine and keep your feet in contact with the mat throughout the exercise.
  • Try not to ‘break’ the back of your neck by jutting your chin forward as your neck should always be in the same alignment as your spine.
  • Try to keep long and low in the body rather than lifting the head and chest too high.
  • You can always modify the exercise by completing the dynamics of the exercise without lifting the head and chest away from the floor at all.


If you would like to get in touch with my about starting Pilates, please do so via my contact page, providing your phone number, email and a short message.


Next time my A-Z of Pilates will be P for Posture.....already looking forward to is one of my absolute favourites!



This entry was posted on April 18, 2018