Updated: Mar 29, 2022
Before getting into the meat and potatoes of today's post, I want to bring a little philosophy into this by saying:
"You are who you are today. The person you are today will not be the person you are tomorrow."
Today, you have an opportunity to make a difference in your life. Each day after that, you get a new opportunity to do something else to make a difference. It can be as small as going for a walk instead of sitting on Instagram or Facebook for an hour, or as large as setting out on the Ironman you have always been looking to start. Just remember that you do have the power to do something. All it takes is just a step.
This step can be a step forward toward your goal, a step to the side if the approach you are going about is not working out the way you have not planned, or it can be a step backward if your action needs some level of re-evaluation. The point is that you are taking ACTION!!! Without action, you go about repeating the same thing day in and day out without growth...without fulfillment...without satisfaction.
Always remember, you have control of your own life. If you need someone to help you see from the 30,000 ft. view, make sure you find the right life coach or mentor who can help you that specializes in the area you wish to tackle. If it involves your function and physical ability to perform activity though, make sure you see your Doctor of Physical Therapy who specializes in what you want to accomplish. (You wouldn't go to a suspension and brakes specialist for your car when you have a transmission problem, right?)
Anyway, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this blog post today. Physical Impact rather than the philosophical.
IMPACT ON YOUR BODY
Impact on your body is something that happens every time you take a step. While important, impact can be something that leads to pain and injury as well. The same goes for lack of impact or stress applied to the body ALSO resulting in pain and injury...but we will get into that soon.
Stress, strain, impact, and pressure are different names for force applied to an object. Our body, and even more specific our skeletal structure, is the object in this sense. As we develop in our childhood and adolescent years, we are growing taller, larger, and more mature overall. The amount and the types of activity you perform during this period, especially during adolescence, will impact (there's that word again) the amount of bone density you will have as you age into your adult years.
For those of you out there who are dealing with bone density issues or those who have family with these issues and may or may not be worried for themselves, please keep on reading.
In years past, you may have heard that impactful activities, such as running and jumping, are bad for you and bad for your joints. However, as research continues to be conducted, impact in your life is important...but as always...it depends.
Just like with all things, tolerance of activity in moderation is important. You do not want to introduce impact too soon or too intensely. You wouldn't want to go from zero to half marathon in a week just as you wouldn't want to go from working on your jump shot in basketball from once a week to five times per week. Gradation and steady progression over time are your friend in this case.
When we apply stress and impact to our bodies, we are applying something that it may be unaccustomed to and therefore may lead to exceeding the current tolerance of your bony structures. When this occurs, your body's natural response is to make your bones stronger by making it denser and laying down more bone. Therefore, when you add more stress or impact, your body will then be better able to tolerate it. Over time, as you add higher and higher levels of stress, your body can create a higher level of tolerance.
The reason why this is so important to do in your childhood and adolescent years is that current research is showing that since this is a significant period of growth and highest availability for change, this will set you up for stronger and healthier bones across your lifetime...even if you develop osteopenia or osteoporosis later in life (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32183049/). There has also been relatively new research as well that has shown that activity, specifically impactful activity, can "reduce" your age in a sense...but that topic is for another day.
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE BONE DENSITY ISSUES?
If you have made it this far, some of the questions you may be asking are, "What if I already have bone density issues? What can I do now? Are impact-related activities bad for me?" In a more general sense, I will repeat that it depends. However, what I will say is that there are things you still can do and impactful activities that can still help you rather than harm you. You just may need to take things slower initially to find what works best for you.
There are many forms of medication available, from Prolia to Reclast to Bisphosphonates, that can assist in helping to restore bone density. However, that does not mean it is the end all be all. Adding in activity that includes impact or resistance training can be a supplement on top of this medication.
Of course, speaking with your physician and creating a team of specialists in this area (e.g., Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dietitians, etc.) are vitally important before taking part on this venture on your own. But doing these simple things can be a good start while you are getting things together.
Spending more time off the couch or in front of the computer is a good start. Going out for a walk or even just more time spent standing than you have before can be a good initiation point for those who are not sure what to do.
For those who are not necessarily ready or prepared to be doing jumping or bounding activities such as jump rope or running, using resistance bands, free
weights, or weight machines are a good next place to start. As I mentioned above, applying more stress above what your body is currently able to tolerate will enhance not only your bone density but also your lean muscle mass which has a range of other health benefits (especially for your heart).
Eat the Right Things
I am not the expert in this area but I do know a good amount to at least give you the essentials. For the higher and more specific needs for yourself or your loved one, please seek the assistance of a licensed dietitian and your physician. You want to make sure you are getting protein with each meal to help with cellular rebuilding and growth which can either be from animal or plant-based sources but should be of sufficient value and type. You also want to make sure you are taking in calcium and obtaining the appropriate amount of vitamin D as well which will not only help with maintaining bone density but will help to reduce bone resorption or loss.
These are just a few of the essentials that you can do but like I said above, this process should not be taken on alone. I have worked with women who over the years have tried everything to deal with bone issues. Since analyzing things with myself and the rest of their medical team, we changed osteoporosis medications to ones, changed, diet, stress management, and added exercise with much greater benefits to them. During our time working together, we have not only been able to reduce further bone loss but have actually improved it after years of continued loss despite taking osteoporosis medication.
To wrap things up, I would like to close by reiterating the essentials to introducing impact into your life. Remember, everything should be in moderation, introducing load and intensity gradually over time (but not at the same time) will help progress and improve your tolerance to activity, and sometimes a multifactorial approach with a team of experts is required to do so.
If you or someone you know is dealing with bone related degeneration such as osteoporosis or osteopenia and would like to find the best solution, please touch base with me using my website, www.ascentptny.com, give me a call at 516-387-4669, or reach out to me via email at email@example.com. You can also click the link HERE to fill out a webform to learn more about how we can help you.
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