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Is It Safe to Do Pilates for Osteoporosis?

in Southfield, MI

Is It Safe to Do Pilates for Osteoporosis?

Did you know that by the age of 50, about 50% of women and 25% of men will be diagnosed with osteoporosis or its precursor osteopenia?

For these folks, low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue puts them at an increased risk of fractures.

There are many ways to combat the effects of these conditions though. Exercise is one of the best ways. And a specialized Pilates for osteoporosis practice can be especially helpful.

What Is Osteoporosis?

In the simplest of terms, osteoporosis is a disease that weakens one’s bones. With osteoporosis, bones become thinner and less dense. They are no longer dense and strong enough to support one’s weight or absorb most sorts of impact. As such, people with this condition are more likely to experience bone fractures or breaks.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware that they have the condition until they start to experience frequent bone breaks or fractures. These most commonly occur in the hips, wrists, and vertebrae of the spine. 

Getting an osteoporosis diagnosis on the earlier end is always preferable because there are things you can do to treat it. So if you’re over 65, have had a fracture over the age of 50, or someone in your immediate family has osteoporosis, ask your healthcare provider for a bone density test.

Treating Osteoporosis

While there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are ways to regain bone mass and slow the progression of loss. These include diet, supplements, medication, and exercise. 


Foods that are rich in calcium such as milk, cheese, and other dairy foods are great for those with osteoporosis. If you’re vegan, you can opt for plant-based drinks with added calcium. 

Soy beans, tofu, and nuts are also good nutritional sources for keeping bones healthy. Fish, especially the kind where you eat the bones (such as sardines and anchovies) are recommended, as well as bread or anything made with fortified flour. 

Finally, green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli should be on the menu. Be careful with spinach, however. It’s high in oxalates which make it harder for the body to absorb calcium.


If you’re unable to get the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet you may have to add vitamin D supplements, as well as calcium. The latter may be over-the-counter or prescription strength. For more extreme cases, there are many options for medication. Even hormone replacement therapies may be recommended for women going through menopause but who aren’t yet postmenopausal. 


While it may seem counterintuitive, regular exercise is recommended for those with osteoporosis. When you move your muscles, it strengthens the tendons that attach them to the bones. This, in turn, strengthens the bones. Many doctors will recommend exercises that make your body work against gravity like Pilates, walking, yoga, and tai chi. All of these help to improve strength and balance without putting much stress on your bones. Working with a physical therapist will enable you to find exercises and movements that are right for you.

The Specifics of Pilates for Osteoporosis

Because Pilates targets muscle and bone strength, it’s an especially effective and safe exercise system for those with osteoporosis. Not only will the movements prevent further bone mass loss, but they may even reverse the effects of the condition. With a strict focus on alignment through weight-bearing exercises, Pilates movements simultaneously strengthen the core, spine, and legs. This is crucial for those with osteoporosis. 

It’s important that you work with only qualified instructors, however. You can begin with a specialized Pilates program 2-3 times per week with movements that strengthen muscles while promoting bone strength. A skilled teacher will likely move you through exercises that involve weight-bearing movements or resistance on the Reformer.

The other reason you need to work with skilled instructors is that you want to ensure you’re not doing movements that will exacerbate your condition. For example, a teacher in the know will emphasize back extension exercises over the more traditional, forward-flexing Pilates movements. 

Ready to See How Pilates Can Help You?

Doing Pilates for osteoporosis is an amazing and effective way to build the bone density that is essential for counteracting the ill effects of osteoporosis. 

While there’s no way to say just how much bone density might be regained with Pilates, there is plenty of research that indicates these increases can occur. 

So if you’re curious about trying Pilates, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our Pilates instructors are highly trained, and we also offer Pilates-based physical therapy. Everything you need under one roof!