Avoid Flexion of the Spine
Many movements in Pilates involve flexion or bending, which causes the back to round into a C-curve. Forward flexion brings the head and shoulders closer to the abdomen. People with osteoporosis or low bone density should avoid or modify movements with flexion. The most common Pilates exercise that involves forward flexion is called “the hundred.” The position of the head, neck and back are not safe if you have low bone density or osteoporosis. Other exercises that involve flexion or bending include ab prep and scissors. You can modify these movements by keeping your head down. This will actually make these exercises more challenging. You should not feel pain in your lower back. Only do what you are comfortable with.
If you have low bone density or osteoporosis, you should avoid Pilates movements that involve flexion of the spine and cannot be modified. Some of the exercises to avoid include: roll up, rolling like a ball, seal, criss cross, teaser, roll over, shoulder stand, saw, spine stretch, jackknife, bicycle, boomerang, double leg stretch, single leg stretch, open leg rocker, crab, corkscrew and neck pull.
Choose Extension Exercises
People with osteoporosis or low bone density should focus on extension exercises. These include exercises that involve backward bending. Some examples are: breast stroke prep, one leg kick, breast stroke, double leg kick, swan and swimming. You can put a pillow under your lowest ribs to protect them when lying face down.
Be Careful With Exercises That Involve Side Bending and Twisting
A little side bending and twisting is fine, but you should not push yourself to a point of strain. Keep these movements small. When bending and twisting, it is important to keep your spine as straight as possible. To do this, imagine you are standing against a wall with your head, middle back and buttocks touching the wall. You should only have a slight curve inward in your lower back. When doing movements with bending and twisting, your instructor can help you make sure your form is correct.