Young People Get Osteoporosis Too 

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Strategies for Osteoporosis
Guidelines for Safe Movement

Keeping active is one of the best ways to maintain bone health. A person who has had an osteoporotic fracture may avoid routine or new activities for fear of experiencing another fracture. However, experts recommend that people with osteoporosis continue to be active and involved in activities at home, work and in the community.

By practicing proper posture and learning the correct way to move (called body mechanics), you can protect your bones while remaining physically active. One of the most important concepts in body mechanics and posture is alignment, which refers to the relationship of the head, shoulders, spine and hips to each other. Proper alignment puts less stress on the spine and ensures good posture. A slumped, head-forward posture puts harmful stress on the spine, as does bending forward or twisting your spine.

For the person with osteoporosis, general muscle strength and flexibility is especially important. Keeping active helps maintain muscle tone, reflexes and balance. Follow these guidelines to move safely throughout your day.

Properly align your spine

  • Stand with your back against a wall with your heels 2 inches from the wall.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and flatten your back against the wall.
  • Lift your breastbone, keep you head up and look straight ahead.
  • Bring your shoulders back towards the wall. There should be a small hollow at the small of your back.
  • Maintaining this position, move away from the wall and check your posture in a full length mirror from the front and side.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes with cushioned soles.


Keep your head high, chin in, shoulder blades slightly "pinched." Maintain the natural arch of your lower back as you flatten your stomach. Your feet should point straight ahead with your knees lined up over your second toe. If you are standing in one place for any length of time, put one foot up on a stool or in an open cupboard. Switch feet periodically.
When sitting, use a rolled towel or pillow to support your lower back. The support should be thick enough to cushion your lower back and maintain the normal arch. Keep your head, back and hips in alignment, and keep your hips and knees at the same level. If your feet do not rest flat on the floor, use a small footstool. When reading, do not lean over your work, but maintain the natural curve of your back. At a desk, prop up a clipboard so it slants towards you like a drafting table. Use a footstool or foot rest when seated for long periods of time. To stand up from the chair, move your hips forward to the front of the chair and use your leg muscles to lift yourself up.
Walk with your chin in, head held high and shoulder blades slightly "pinched." Your feet should point straight ahead, not out to one side. Your knees should be lined up over where your 2nd toe is in your shoe. You may need to turn the knee outward consciously in order to line your foot up properly. Do not let your knees lock back as you bring your weight over your foot, but keep them slightly bent. Keep hips, knees and toes properly lined up when climbing stairs as well.
Bending and Lifting
To pick up an item, stand with your feet flat and about shoulder-width apart from one another. Both arms should touch your ribs or thighs unless you are using one hand for support. Maintaining your lower back curve, squat, kneel or sit in a chair. Keep one foot flat on the floor to keep equal force at the hip, knee and ankle. Bring the item close to your body at waist level. Gently breathe in while using your leg and thigh muscles to lift the object and straighten up. When you reach an upright position, exhale. Never lift objects, packages or babies weighting more than ten pounds.
To tie your shoes or dry your feet, sit in a chair, place your foot on a footstool or box, maintain proper back alignment and lean forward from the hips to tie or dry. When carrying groceries, request that the bags be packed light. Divide heavy items into separate bags and hold bags close to your body. You may also use a cart with wheels to transport bags from the store to home or from the car into the house. When unpacking, place packages on a chair or counter top instead of the floor.

Consider using a fanny pack instead of a heavy pocketbook.

Pushing or Pulling

Housework can involve strenuous physical exertion. For the person with osteoporosis, proper body mechanics when doing chores is essential. To protect your back from injury, consider these movements for vacuuming, mopping or sweeping floors, cleaning the bathtub, or gardening. For vacuuming type activities, maintain proper alignment by imagining your upper arms strapped to your chest from shoulders to elbows so they cannot move. Always face your work directly to keep from twisting your back. Keep your feet apart with one foot in front of the other. Shift your weight from one leg to the other to move the vacuum, broom, mop or rake back and forth. Lean forward from the hips and bend at the knees instead of the waist. Avoid polishing floors to a high gloss, which makes them slippery. If you wish to scrub a spot on the floor on your hands and knees that's fine as long as you can move up and down from the floor easily and safely. Putting yourself in an "all fours" position is a way to protect your back when gardening as well. In the bathroom, use a scrub brush or sponge on a long handle so you can scrub in an upright or kneeling position to keep your back straight.


Lying Down in Bed or Getting Out of Bed
Sit on the edge of the bed. Lean toward the head of the bed supporting your body with both hands. As you lower yourself toward the mattress, bring your legs and feet onto the bed. Whey lying in bed on your side, use pillows between your knees and under your head to keep your spine aligned or roll onto your back keeping your knees bent and moving your head, shoulders and hips together. To get out of bed reverse these steps. Keep both arms in front of you. Breathe in and roll onto your side. Use your hands to raise your upper body as you move your legs over the side of the bed in one motion. Sit on the edge of the bed for a moment before standing up.

Safe Reaching
Use both arms together to avoid twisting your spine. Don't reach for a shelf higher than you can easily reach with both arms. Stand on a safety step stool with high handrails or use a reaching device, but only lift lightweight objects. Reorganize work areas so items that are used regularly are stored at waist or eye level.

Coughing or Sneezing
Develop the habit of supporting your back with one hand whenever you cough or sneeze. Place your hand behind your back or on your knee. This protects the spine and intervertebral discs (the tough cushions of cartilage between the vertebrae that act as shock absorbers) from damage caused by a sudden bend forward.


Don'ts for Safe Movement
  • Don't walk or exercise on slippery surfaces.
  • Don't wear "scuffs" or "mules" (backless bedroom slippers) or shoes with slippery soles.
  • Don't slouch when standing, walking or sitting at a desk.
  • Don't sit in a deep, cushioned chair or couch that causes you to sink into it. Use upright chairs with arms. Place your feet on a footstool if they don't rest flat on the floor.
  • Don't move too quickly.
  • Don't engage in sports or activities that require twisting the spine or bending forward from the waist, such as conventional sit-ups, toe touches or swinging a golf club.
  • Don't force yourself to complete a task or exercise if you feel short of breath, are in pain or are fatigued.
  • Don't take to your chair or bed for extended periods of time. Inactivity is one of the worst things for osteoporosis.

Do's for Safe Movement

  • Always pay attention to proper posture.
    • Lift your breastbone.
    • Keep your head erect and look forward.
    • Keep your shoulders back, lightly "pinch" shoulder blades.
    • Tighten you abdominal muscles and buttocks.
  • Whenever possible, walk or climb the stairs. When walking stairs, always use the handrail.
  • Always bend from the hips and knees, not from the waist.





Almost every activity can be adapted to meet your age, ability, lifestyle and strength. Therefore, you may wish to speak with your doctor, a physiatrist or physical therapist about your special concerns regarding safe movement and posture before practicing any of these movements, posture exercises or activities in the video.