Strengthen Your Bones By Unleashing Your Inner "Wolff!"
Strengthen Your Bones By Unleashing Your Inner “Wolff!”
You may have heard that exercise can help strengthen your bones, but do you know how? It is due to a biological phenomenon called Wolff’s Law. In the 19th century, Julius Wolff described how bones can sense changes in the demands on them, and they remodel themselves based on the direction and intensity of the stress. For example, when a bone is fractured, typically it is set in a cast or splint to make sure it heals in place, and then anatomically correct movement in physical therapy or at home, will guide the bone tissue to full tensile strength and function. Wolff’s Law can also be applied to help prevent injuries and osteoporosis with exercise.
There are two types of exercise that are recommended for strengthening your bones. One is weight-bearing, which includes activities like jogging, stair climbing, plyometric-style drills, and other exercises that require you to lift and move your own body across a surface or make contact with the ground. Swimming or cycling would not be considered “weight-bearing”. The other type is resistive exercise, otherwise known as strength training. Dynamic, multi-joint movements using weights or resistance bands are best, including squats, lunges, push-ups (or chest press), overhead press, etc. Since we are applying Wolff’s Law to actually change and adapt our bone structure, we need to be very precise about the movement, so making sure you have good form is key. Below are the start phase and end phase for each of the aforementioned exercises.
These days, a lot of us have sedentary jobs and don’t use our bodies as nature intended, but if you don’t use it, you lose it! That goes for bone mineral density too, so make your bones happy and get a move on! :)
~Shara Swager, BS, CSCS, IC, Fitness Specialist, Health As We Age, Inc.