The object of this article is to point out the existence of Post Menopausal Osteoporosis. It can be quite common for a lot of women and a big problem if you don’t realise you have it. Osteoporosis is not reversible so prevention is paramount.
Many things can cause it such as thyroid problems (get a blood test) , bone making or calcification problems (get a Dexa Xray scan-results example below). See your G.P. for this.
Physical stresses and strains are an important stimulus to bone making activity. Prince et al in N.Eng J Med compared the effectiveness of exercise, calcium supplementation and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on post menopausal women and studied their prospective bone loss. They concluded exercise and calcium and exercise with HRT can slow or prevent bone loss. (Exercise seems to be the common denominator)
So something can be done about preventing our bone loss Good News! You may ask – can golf be an appropriate exercise? Well, I’ve found strong support for golf and HRT in a Journal ‘Osteoporosis International’. Esser et al in 2008 looked at the interaction between playing golf and HRT on vertebral (spine) bone properties and concluded that in post menopausal women that the combination may improve lower spine bone strength.
Current exercise recommendations for Osteoporosis by the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society are a combination of aerobic and strength training 2-3 times/week. You can use free weights or rubber resistance bands attached to secure objects.
Do 8-10 different exercises. Exercise at 70-80% of maximum effort. For example :-
– Exercise bike intervals of hard 30 second bursts
– Push ups, dips, planks, squats, bridges, lunges, balance work, free weights & cables – use pin loaded cable machines at the gym.
– Avoid high impact loading eg. jumping, bounding
Low intensity exercise such as walking and swimming has minimal effect on our Bone Mineral Density (BMD).
What is the difference between Osteopenia and Osteoporosis ? The former is the thinning of bone mass and comes before Osteoporosis which is a greater loss of bone mass due to low calcium levels in bone. If you have been diagnosed with Osteoporosis there is a practical question regarding the safety of golf with women who have this condition. There are prescribed safety measures such as looking at your flexibility, back extensor muscle strength and golf swing technique. See your doctor, golf professional and physiotherapist. They will look at your Dexa scans to see if your bones are too weak or if their density is ok. The physiotherapist will see if your spine is too humped, curved, kyphotic or is straight enough to play golf. If the spine is straight and bones are not too low on the Dexa scale the physiotherapist will give you land based resistance exercises and maybe suggest some rotational work and back muscle work in the pool (hydrotherapy).
Then you should see your golf pro to check out your swing, he may make it more compact, lower the windup and get you to use your hips to rotate (to unload your spine ) creating an improved biomechanical technique. Your entire swing should not consist of only a ‘spinal rotation’ as this places too much torque on the vertebral column.
If you have Osteoporosis it is important to go down this path to avoid a spontaneous spinal fracture which can be quite painful. If you don’t have Osteoporosis – then start preventing it by supplementing your golf with appropriate exercises +/- medication and advice from doctors/physiotherapists/golf professionals/personal trainers and JOIN A GYM !!