A fitness professional (she is a Pilates, dance and aerobics instructor at a gym) recently contacted me with a question regarding neck exercises, neck stretches and osteoporosis. She was specifically interested neck flexibility exercises, the cervical spine, and neck flexion in clients with osteoporosis.
Neck Exercises, Neck Stretches and Osteoporosis
She had a very good question that I thought I should share with everyone. Thankfully, this fitness professional was concerned enough about her clients to look into this question and contact me. Here is her question:
I am an instructor at a gym in Toronto and I just finished your 5 day professional email course.
I am aware clients with osteoporosis should avoid flexion. But in the 5 day course much of the talk of fracture was associated with the thoracic or lumbar regions. How much should a client stretch his or her neck? Or should they even stretch their neck at all?
I have stopped teaching neck stretches (by placing your chin on your chest) and instead have been doing side tilts and looking left to right side rotation.
Thank you for this website and your response.
This is a great question. It is a good thing that this fitness professional is being cautious. Here is my response:
Several years ago the same question was asked to me by folks at Osteoporosis Canada. Since there is no research in this area I forwarded the question to several Physical Therapists who have done extensive research in the area of Osteoporosis and Exercise.
The overall concensus was that neck flexion was safe to do. I will often give my clients semi-circles to do from shoulder to shoulder which incorporates the flexion movement.
Exercises that encourage flexion of the back (particularly the thoracic and lumbar regions) should be avoided – particularly by people with osteoporosis. Neck exercises and neck stretches that promote flexibility are safe for people with osteoporosis.
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