The average male or female Pilates participant is 45-55 years of age. This is the prime age when both men and women begin to notice differences in their muscle mass. Doctors might also note a difference in their bone mineral density.
Osteoporosis is known as the “silent killer.” At its onset, it is a-symptomatic. In other words, the condition can be prevalent but without proper testing, you will not realize your bone health is deteriorating.
Lifestyle, weight, genetics, medication, exercise and diet can all affect the onset of this disease. At the same time, all of the above can also prevent, reverse or slow down bone deterioration.
For those seeking exercise options, Pilates is a safe alternative. This method of body conditioning allows the student to progress at her own pace. In addition, the body can be safely challenged in various planes of motion while working against gravity or spring resistance. All Pilates exercises can be modified to avoid deep spinal flexion, rotation and/or the combination of both.
It is imperative that such spinal protocols are adhered to in order to avoid spinal fractures. These exercise protocols can be achieved in Pilates through the use of the Pilates apparatus, as well as by modifying the Pilates mat choreography. As part of any exercise program, clients will need to strengthen their spinal extensor muscles, as well as practice balance and coordination to prevent falls.
When researching a Pilates instructor, all prospective clients should ask the following:
- How long has the instructor been teaching Pilates?
- Is the instructor accredited in both Pilates Mat and Pilates Apparatus?
- If the instructor is new to the field, is he or she supervised by a senior teacher?
- Has the instructor or supervisor attended additional seminars on osteoporosis exercise protocol beyond the accreditation course work?
- Does the instructor currently work with clients with osteoporosis?
- What has been the success rate of their exercise routine relative to subsequent bone density testing?
The internet is a great resource for general information on the disease but it also has a lot of erroneous information. Asking probing questions when assessing a Pilates studio is extremely important. Always visit the studio before making a commitment. Getting client references is also important.
Also: Ask to observe a class. Your instructor should be able to create a fun, supportive and safe environment where you can work both your body and your mind.