Mon 20th May 2019

Osteoporosis: A call to my mum and the importance of Bone Banking

I have just returned from my day course at Body Control Pilates Central HQ studio in London, being brought bang up to date with the latest advice and guidelines on teaching clients with Osteopenia,  Osteoporosis and a focus on ‘Bone Banking’ at all ages. The course was developed in partnership with the Royal Osteoporosis Society and BCP. And quite frankly it was shocking, and a bit scary and I’m going to get straight on the phone to my mum!

This phone call will not be because even as a big girl now I need my mum to reassure me. It will be because like many women of her age, a sprightly, fit and marvelous 73, with a bit of a ‘retirement’ attitude to weekday wine and cheese and a good vodka tonic after a day in the garden, she has a 1 in 2 chance of having low bone density, leading to osteopenia, and on to full Osteoporosis. This leads to small, often undetected, sometimes very serious, and frighteningly easily made fractures on the spine and other bones. And whilst a broken wrist is annoying it’s a darn sight less serious than a broken hip.

Like her daughter’s similar defensive reaction to shock tactics, I won’t start the conversation with the words: Mum! Osteoporosis is a SILENT EPIDEMIC! You URGENTLY need a Bone scan! You’ve lost 20% of your bone mass since menopause! Eating more cheese doesn’t give you calcium! Tonic water is LEACHING your bones of precious calcium so lay off the vodka tonics too! You are the generation most at risk!

(This is all true by the way, with research provided on my course….you see, scary!)

Instead I’ll go with the positives:

Mum, just been on this really great Pilates course. Thank you for spending all that time moving about in the garden strengthening your bones by creating valuable Octoblasts to regenerate your bones. And for being in the sunshine for a dose of important bone building Vitamin D. It is so good for your bone health! You’ve never smoked, broken a bone and you’ve always eaten super healthy and all the walking and aqua fit to keep your balance and reactions in check, means I’m far less worried about you ever having a tumble and breaking something. Do you know how good your bone density score is by the way??  But it’s NEVER too late to build more bone mass through even more weight bearing exercises. Would you like some nifty hand weights for your birthday?

But I know that any mention of BREAKING something or stopping or slowing down or the sadly total utter mission of getting a GP appointment, will be met by her with ‘well I’ll just carry on as usual, I’ve not broken anything and I’m NOT that old!’ which is undoubtedly better than ‘well, I better sit in front of an old box set of Morse and just drink straight gin’.

I will persevere through, and make sure she does with the GP. I know she’d rather have some Clarins face cream for her birthday, but a set of light weights and some suggestions of careful modifications for ensuring continual, safe, functional movement is an even better gift to give her.

Bottom line: This a complex issue that Liz and I will be addressing with all our clients. We will be encouraging all our female clients over 50 to get a bone scan (like an x-ray, no tunnels involved!) or to let us know if they have a score from a recent one they need to tell us about. And for those younger clients from my VitaTeens, to new Postnatal Pilates mums and all the way up, we will be reminding you what an excellent choice you have made by choosing Pilates to build your own precious Bone Bank.