Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Moving Safely
    Susan Allison, RNC, BSN, MPA posted:
    Good posture and proper body mechanics are important throughout your life, especially if you have osteoporosis. "Body mechanics" refers to how you move throughout the day. Knowing how to move, sit and stand properly can help you stay active and prevent broken bones and disability.


    Proper posture can also help to limit the amount of kyphosis, or forward curve of the upper back, that can result from broken bones in the spine.


    One of the most important things about body mechanics and posture is alignment. Alignment refers to how the head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles relate and line up with each other. Proper alignment of the body puts less stress on the spine and helps you have good posture.

    To keep proper alignment, avoid the following positions or movements:

    ? Having a slumped, head-forward posture
    ? Bending forward from the waist
    ? Twisting of the spine to a point of strain
    ? Twisting the trunk and bending forward when doing activities such as coughing, sneezing, vacuuming or lifting
    ? Anything that requires you to reach far. An example is reaching up for items on high shelves.

    Some exercises can do more harm than good. If you have osteoporosis or have broken bones in the spine, you should avoid exercises that involve bending over from the waist. Some examples of movements you should NOT do include sit-ups, abdominal crunches and toe touches.

    If you have osteoporosis, a knowledgeable physical therapist can teach you to exercise and move safely throughout the day to protect your bones.
    ginnysam responded:
    I have osteopenia and osteoporosis. I'm 50 yrs old and in good health otherwise. Which exercises are best for me to use in order to strengthen core muscles, esp abdominal area?
    Susan Allison, RNC, BSN, MPA replied to ginnysam's response:
    NOF's Winter 2010 edition of "The Osteoporosis Report" includes a seated abdominal exercise that is safe for people with osteoporosis. You can download this publication by visiting
    mujerfuerte replied to Susan Allison, RNC, BSN, MPA's response:
    I like that. Thank you.
    SharonGoldman responded:
    Susan, it was nice to come upon this post -- thank you! I am a Pilates/movement instructor at Mind Over Movement in Madison, NJ who works regularly with clients dealing with osteoporosis and's important to help them understand that flexion and excessive rotation is a no-no as is the forward-head posture. My grandmother struggled with osteoporosis for almost half her I'm particularly passionate on the topic!
    sequoiahealth replied to Susan Allison, RNC, BSN, MPA's response:
    Hi Susan:
    The current thinking on seated exercise is "don't do it unless you absolutely have to" no matter your age or bone health. The seated posture as compared to standing or lying down has three major disadvantages.

    Seated exercises:
    1. Place unsafe pressures on the vertebrae that can be avoided by performing similar exercises standing or lying down
    2. Do not stimulate balance which is vital to falls and fracture prevention
    3. Do not properly prepare the body for Activities of Daily Living (ADL) such as carrying groceries, getting in and out of a car and putting away dishes in the kitchen
    The best exercise program is one that stabilizes and decompresses the spine and strengthens the whole body while improving balance and functional movement.

    Karen Kemmis, PT, DPT, MS replied to sequoiahealth's response:
    I would like to join into this conversation with a few points.

    The evidence about pressure on the vertebrae (the bones that make up your spine), comparing various positions, actually stems from research that looked at the spinal discs, not the bones. And, the research compared individuals who were in a relaxed sitting position to a relaxed standing position (and other positions). The research did not look at individuals who
    were performing exercises, such as the example in this discussion. So, it is good to keep some of the information from that research in mind, but we are not really sure about the pressure placed on the bones during this and other seated exercises.

    The exercise discussed above can be done sitting or lying down. Both are good options. Proper body position, as described by Susan, is very important in either position. The picture does demonstrate how this exercise can be done safely in a sitting position with great posture. If you choose to do the exercise lying down, be sure you are in your best posture, too.

    It is very important to work on balance, especially for people with low bone density/osteoporosis or an increased risk of falling. Doing balance exercises while standing will help people improve standing balance more than sitting.

    But, all exercises aren't made to work on everything. If you are trying to strengthen or stretch an important area, the best exercise(s) should be chosen based on accomplishing your specific goal(s). When you try to combine things (for example, strengthening with balance or stretching with balance), one or both aspects often get short-changed. So, exercises should
    be chosen carefully; some with a focus on strength, some on stretching, some for balance, and some that are combination/functional exercises. An overall program, with several exercises, will generally be the best approach.

    When choosing combination/functional exercises, it is helpful to think of what you could do to help your function. Some examples are to slowly stand from a chair without using your arms or climbing stairs. If you are having trouble doing your normal daily activities, consider seeing a physical therapist to get exercises that will be individualized for you.

    Also, don't forget about your heart and lungs. If they don't work well, nothing else will! Aerobic exercise (such as walking or hiking) should be included in a well-rounded program.
    An_244622 responded:
    I've been diagnosed with Osteoporosis of the pelvic and lower spine. I'm 67 and becoming more and more concerned about bone fractures. Twice I've fractured my ankle with no effort. Last year I experienced severe pain in the pelvic area that lasted for several months. I stopped exercising and eventually pain slowly diminished. This pain would occur when I pulled myself out of bed or from a chair, or cough, etc. There was no pain while walking, bending forward or reaching. Doctors couldn't determine the cause of pain. Now that I've read your information, I wonder if pain was result of Osteoporosis (which the doctors didn't make that correlation)? Would I benefit from physical therapy, and what questions should I ask when ascertaining one?
    bonebabe replied to An_244622's response:
    It's very likely that you could have had a small fracture in the pelvic/hip area. You certainly need some instruction in proper body mechanics and ADL's (Activities of Daily Living.) In the meantime, no bending forward at the waist and no twisting of the spine. The fact that you've already had two fractures and a diagnosis of osteoporosis puts you at a very high risk of having more fractures. If you've not talked to your doctor about an osteoporosis RX, now is the time. He also can give you a referral for some physical therapy instruction.

    You can also go online at the National Osteoporosis Foundation ( ) and order their booklet (for $1) called "Boning Up on Osteoporosis." We use it as a teaching tool in our osteo rehab classes. It has tons of good information on everything osteoporosis as well as illustrations of movements to avoid and what to do instead.
    deniseinsocal responded:
    Thank you for this info. I have had osteoporosis for over 5 years and my doctor has never given this information to me, actually she hasn't talked to me about it much at all!
    Gram23 replied to Susan Allison, RNC, BSN, MPA's response:
    Susan, this is now a broken link. Is there another way to get to this report?
    Elizabeth_WebMD_Staff replied to Gram23's response:
    Hi Gram23 -

    I will look for an updated link. Thanks for letting us know!

    While I find the specific link, see this pdf from another one of NOF's experts -

    Protect the Spine Through Exercise

    Hope this is helpful,
    jspartan619 responded:
    What about activities that require carrying heavy weight on your lower back, upper back or both combined -- as in activities involving heavily-weighted backpacks and sandbag training?

    What about leg raises, barbell squats (back), lat pull downs (front) or pull-ups?
    bonebabe replied to jspartan619's response:
    Not smart if your bone density in your back is low. Find out what your T-score was in your back. If it's lower than -1.1, I'd leave off those activities.

    The pull ups are OK though.

    Helpful Tips

    Good luck... More
    Was this Helpful?
    2 of 3 found this helpful

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    For more information, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website