Osteoporosis is a disease affecting many millions of people around the world. In the US alone, this condition is a major health risk for 28 million Americans. One of our TRX Community members, Bart, recently wrote into Dr. Perkash asking whether the TRX Suspension Trainer could be incorporated into the treatment of osteoporosis. Below, you'll find the Q&A as well as a video we shot here at TRX HQ with our Director of Rehabilitation Brian Bettendorf (and Anne from our Education Dept), illustrating some of the TRX exercises Dr. Perkash recommends for individuals who have been diagnosed with this condition.
Traditional weight training with dumbbells and barbells is commonly recommended for osteoporosis to ensure bone density doesn’t deteriorate even further. Can TRX bodyweight training be used instead, or do I still need to use additional weights like dumbbells?
Osteoporosis-related fractures are a significant cause of disability in the elderly. Recent research has demonstrated that one of the best ways to combat osteoporosis is prevention. This can be achieved through a variety of recommended behaviors beginning early in life and continuing these behaviors throughout one’s life.
Proper nutrition, including adequate consumption of calcium, as well as regular physical activity and exercise contribute to improving bone mineral density. Bone has the ability to respond to exercise by becoming stronger and denser. Studies have shown that two main types of exercise are most important for building and maintaining bone mineral density: weight-bearing exercise that involves bones and muscles working against gravity, and resistance training that provides a force on bones provided by muscles and tendons, which leads to stronger bones.
With the TRX, you use your own bodyweight as resistance. This type of training results in increased tension on muscles and tendons, providing a force on bones that can lead to increased bone mineral density. Furthermore, any TRX exercise that is performed standing on one or both feet involves weight bearing and therefore can help with strengthening bones.
In the video above, you'll see three TRX exercises that can be substituted for exercises using dumbbells: TRX Chest Press, TRX Mid Row and TRX Overhead Squat. Some other TRX exercises you can do include the TRX Shoulder Series (I, Y, T Deltoid Fly), TRX Biceps Curl, TRX Triceps Press, TRX Push-up and many others.
The unique benefit of the TRX is the user is able to modfiy body angle and base of support to scale intensity across a continuum of low to high loads and stable to unstable positions. Furthermore, TRX exercises promote balance, core strengthening, gait and performance and can decrease the risk of falling in the elderly, reducing the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures. (Studies are currently being done using the TRX in fall prevention.) For all of these reasons, the TRX is a great substitute for many exercises that use traditional dumbbells and barbells.
The important point is to adhere to a comprehensive exercise program throughout one’s lifetime to encourage overall improved bone density and strength.
Have a question for the TRX Doctor? Email the Doc. For more on how TRX Suspension Training bodyweight exercise is a safe, scalable and effective solution for you or your patients, visit our Sports Medicine page.
NOTE: Any medical information in this blog is of a general nature and not a substitute for the advice of a medical professional. If you need medical advice, see a doctor.