We often think of bones in individual areas: we have a bad back, a painful shoulder, a creaky knee, an uncomfortable hip, and we rarely consider the muscle networks across our back and stomach which are designed to hold everything essentially together. Strong bones are one thing, but keeping them happily in place is really the work of your muscles in your stomach, lower back and pelvis. Keeping them in sync keeps everything in order.

Exercises to this purpose can be quite tough, especially if you’ve allowed this area of your body relax for too long. This is the core of your skeletal and muscle structure – it’s the way you stand up, move and keep your balance. It’s never too late to begin. Put your best foot forward by absorbing all the information you can about this key system, and then plan the way you are going to handle the right kind of exercises that will strengthen your core and boost your bones.

The keys to your core

A strong core maintains posture, stability, and overall physical performance. However, its benefits extend beyond these aspects, as research has shown a strong correlation between a robust core and enhanced bone health. By understanding this connection, you will hopefully be motivated to prioritise these core exercises, and by doing so you will be adopting a more holistic approach to your bone health.

  • The core refers to the muscles in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvis region, working together to stabilise the spine and maintain proper posture. A strong core helps distribute the load more effectively across the skeletal system, reducing stress on specific bones and joints. By enhancing stability and posture, the core plays a vital role in minimising the risk of falls and injuries that could in the long term impact your bone health negatively.
  • That old bugbear of weight-bearing exercises is a big deal here. There’s no escaping the reality that engaging in weight-bearing exercises is essential for building and maintaining bone density. These exercises exert force on the bones, stimulating them to become stronger and more resistant to fractures.
  • A strong core facilitates the execution of various weight-bearing exercises, as it provides a solid foundation for movement and helps maintain proper alignment. Whether performing resistance training, walking, or running, a strong core enhances the transfer of forces throughout the body, allowing the bones to adapt and remodel in response to these mechanical stresses.
  • Always keep in mind that a strong core not only supports the skeletal system directly but also influences muscle co-ordination and movement patterns. When the core muscles are weak or poorly activated, other muscles may compensate, leading to imbalances and altering mechanical movement.
  • Such imbalances can impose additional stress on certain bones, joints, and soft tissues, potentially increasing the risk of injuries. On the other hand, a strong and well-co-ordinated core helps maintain proper alignment which in turn creates optimal movement patterns, reducing the likelihood of excessive strain on any specific structure of the skeleton.
  • The relationship between core strength and bone health extends beyond biomechanical factors. Hormonal regulation also plays a significant role in bone metabolism. Exercises that target the core muscles, particularly high-intensity resistance training, will stimulate the release of growth factors and hormones that promote bone health. Specifically, testosterone has been closely associated with enhanced bone mineral density. By engaging in exercises that strengthen the core, you can potentially optimise these hormonal responses, thereby positively impacting bone health.
  • The core has a multifaceted impact on bone health, providing stability. By making core exercises a regular part of your fitness programme, you can safeguard your bones, thus reducing the risk of bone disease such as osteoporosis and the devastating results of fractures. Not only will your bones strengthen, but you will be improving the overall quality of your life.

Quite simply, the more you exercise, the more you push and strengthen your core, the more you improve your overall health – the more you will encourage ease of movement, and truly equip your bones to delay the negative aspects of the aging process.

Love your bones. Keep your bones upright and firm by building a strong muscular core. And your bones will love you!

NOFSA (National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa)

NOFSA is the only non-profit, voluntary health organisation dedicated to promoting lifelong bone health. We focus on reducing the widespread prevalence of osteoporosis while working to find a cure for the disease, and by supporting research and developing programmes of education and advocacy.

Find out more about our work at: www.osteoporosis.org.za