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Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Yes or no?

I actually love jumping on the Reformer to assist with building bone density, however, if someone is quite fragile with a T-score of -2.5 or -3 I would not give them jumping.

Jumping on the Reformer has a very different relationship to gravity than doing standing jumps. So the impact is not as great, making it a safer option for low impact work, and also a great way to build confidence and strength before introducing standing jumping.

Main things about jumping if someone is diagnosed with osteopenia:

  1. Do not add in the half curls or any spinal flexion or rotation as this may cause a compression fracture in the spine.

  2. Work at an appropriate weight (I find 1.25 springs is enough for 86 year old client - 2 full springs may be too much impact for her, but other clients will be able to tolerate up to 3 springs.

  3. Work with single leg jumps rather than double to take less loading through the abdominals and pelvic floor.

Jumping will create a loading force through the legs, hips and spine. The impact of the jump will stimulate bone to maintain its' mineral density, and perhaps encourage increasing mineral density here.

If you are interested in learning more about Osteoporosis and Osteopenia for Pilates please check out my course!

One of my clients is going through menopause and I am giving her jumping variations that are fun to keep her bones strong. I tend to avoid jumping and landing on two feet as I find this too high impact, and prefer variations that hop from one foot to the other, almost like a light jog. With jumping you want enough loading to improve bone, but not too much that a fracture will occur. Some clients you will not jump with at all because of fracture risk! So if a client does have Osteoporosis then perhaps jumping is not a great choice.

As with all Pilates programs the choice of exercises should be unique to the client. A clear understanding of results from their DEXA scan will be key for designing their program.

As Harvard Women’s Health states: Running, jumping, and other weight-bearing exercises stimulate your bones and make them stronger.

Bones are re-modelling all the time, the amount of remodelling is dependent on the stresses and strains placed upon them. Age and Hormone related changes can affect bone, and not is a good way. As kids, bone is far more responsive and bone density increases in children far more with running and jumping activities.

If incorporating jumping into your exercise program for someone with Osteopenia, make sure you include a long slow warm up and stretching in the middle of the program and/or at the end.

Some of my Osteopenia clients really love jumping too! It is fun! And what better way to keep motivated to build bone that to do something that is fun! Jumping stimulates bone and I believe it should be included in every exercise program unless there are injuries or other limiting factors that make jumping undesirable.

Remember building bone density is specific to the area that the muscles are pulling on the bones, so with jumping there is increased benefit to the bones in the hip, and a little benefit to the bones in the spine, however no benefit to the bones in the arms.

In fact, a study by

Larry A Tucker, J Eric Strong, James D LeCheminant, Bruce W Bailey on the Effect of two jumping programs on hip bone mineral density in premenopausal women concluded that “After 16 weeks of high-impact jump training, hip BMD can be improved in premenopausal women by jumping 10 or 20 times, twice daily, with 30 seconds of rest between each jump, compared with controls.”

This is also another awesome article to help explain the process of bone re-modelling. Mechanical basis of bone strength: influence of bone material, bone structure and muscle action by N.H. Hart,1,2 S. Nimphius,2,3 T. Rantalainen,2,4 A. Ireland,5 A. Siafarikas,2,6,7,8 and R.U. Newton1

What are your thoughts on jumping and bone density?

Here is a little clip with some jumping variations. Which ones would you use for your clients?

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