Wai-Po Tang, 1997. Webpublish Dec 1999.
Relationship of Elderly Martial Art Practitioners and Osteoporosis
Female martial art practitioners and generally older practitioners
(either gender) should be aware of training intensity at certain
time of the month or year. One of a major factor that can have detrimental
effect on long-term health is under-exercise or over-exercise. This
present study looks at the skeletal structure from the sport medicine
standpoint on bone density.
word 'Osteoporosis' literally means porous or brittle bones; a reduction
in bone mass due to the aging process.
is a crippling and painful disease affecting one in three women
and one in 12 men in the United Kingdom with an excess of 2 million
sufferers (The National Osteoporosis society, 1996) . Twenty million
people in the United States suffer from osteoporosis (Tortora and
Grabowski, 1996). It is a major cause of fractures in the middle
aged and elderly person and it is estimated that there are approximately
190,000 fractures a year in the United Kingdom, costing the national
health service about £600 million (Kanis JA, Pitt FA 1992) . Research
in the Americas found that women of over 70 years of age who have
suffered a hip fracture, 70% of those discharged to a nursing home
die within one year and 49% who return to their own homes die within
two years (Pollner F, 1985) . Fractures in the hips are increasingly
common particularly in the older women, whereas younger women and
men suffer painful fractures of the hip, wrist, spine, and other
skeleton is a living organism and the bones are alive and constantly
being rebuilt and they need a good calcium intake from our diet
and also moderate amount of weight bearing exercises. Tennis players
have more bone in their serving arm than their non-serving arm.
Long distance runners have been shown to have a higher density of
bone in their spines than people who take very little exercise.
Inactivity has the opposite effect and astronauts who are weightless
for a few weeks lose calcium very quickly from their bones. The
National Osteoporosis society (1996) states that people who are
more active and take regular exercises have been shown to have a
higher bone density than sedentary people.
osteoporosis can be reduced by adopting a good healthy lifestyle,
taking regular exercise and for women after menopause to receive
hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
bones of the skeleton consist of a strong outer casing called cortical
bone and a mesh-like structure inside which is called trabecular
bone. Osteoporotic's cortical bone (outer) is thinner and the trabecular
bone (inner) is less dense when compared with normal healthy bone
is clearly shown in diagram 1.
Adopting the preventive approach to osteoporosis is probably the
most positive attitude and there are important factors to consider
such as diet, lifestyle and exercise. An adult requires a daily
intake of 1,000 mg of calcium (a little over a pint of milk) to
help to build (osteoblasts) healthy bones. Smoking and excessive
alcohol consumption is harmful to bones. Taking steady, regular
exercise such as brisk walking or other weight-bearing exercise
for 20 minutes 3 times a week is recommended. Exercise has numerous
benefits, it can strengthen muscles, improve balance and co-ordination
and mobility which can help to reduce the risk of falling especially
for the elderly.
and et al. (1984) found that weight lifters had the greatest bone
densities, whereas swimmers had the least. In addition, the level
of bone mass in elite swimmers did not differ from non-athletic
control subjects, suggesting the importance of weight bearing activity.
of osteoporosis is easy in the event of a broken wrist or hip after
a minor fall but it is more difficult to judge whether back pain
is caused by spinal fractures. X-ray can only show very severe osteoporosis
and a bone density measurement can assess the extent of any bone
Symptoms and Associated conditions
Typical symptoms of osteoporosis are: several lost inches in height;
developed round shoulders and an increase in the curvature of the
spine with possible associated back pain. However, there are possibilities
of other underlying problems that can be associated with osteoporosis,
they are as follows:
term or high corticosteriod use - sometimes prescribed for asthma
or rheumatoid arthritis. It may be very successful in treating
those problems but it is bad for the bones.
thyroid or too high a dose of thyroid hormone replacement.
where the parathyroid glands are overactive, leading to excessive
breakdown of bone.
disease, especially myeloma.
or lack of mobility.
inherited conditions such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta.
nervosa or overdieting, resulting in loss of periods.
problems such as chronic liver disease and after gastrectomy operations.
- when male or female sex organs have not properly developed,
resulting in low circulating levels of male or female hormones.
most cases osteoporosis will have no apparent underlying cause.
In women, osteoporosis tends to be directly due to the loss of oestrogen
at the menopause.
Pain relief: heat pads, hot water bottles or ice packs; improve
mobility and muscle strength; hydrotherapy exercises (heated swimming
pool at 98°F); ultrasound; acupuncture; Transcutaneous Electrical
Nerve Stimulator (TENS).
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); Cyclical etidronate (non-hormonal
treatment); Alendronate; Calcitriol; Calcitonin.
Calcium Supplements; testosterone; anabolic steroids (nandralone
decanoate); sodium fluoride.
The amount and type of exercise will vary pending on the severity
of the condition and how much pain is in existence. A golden rule,
'A little and often, not too much too quickly' is the right approach.
The following exercises are designed to correct posture, improve
mobility in the spine and joints, and to strengthen muscles that
support the bones. Start with 5 to 10 repetitions of each exercise
and gradually build up the repetitions but ensuring not do too much.
This article highlights the problem of osteoporosis and its associated
symptoms; however, the recommendations are for guidelines only.
Therefore, it is vital for any martial art instructor to consider
training intensity on bone-to-bone contact of elderly students,
and adapt training methodologies according to health conditions.
Most importantly, seek medical advice or refer students to physicians
to evaluate any uncertain symptoms.