Protecting Your Spine

Protecting your Spine

It is very important if you have been diagnosed with Osteopenia and/or Osteoporosis, that you protect the bones in your spine. The fact that bone loss is silent means that many people are not aware of how important it is to be assessed by a health care professional who deals specifically with bone loss, prior to beginning any exercise programme.

If you already have fractures in your spine please contact us here at the Irish Osteoporosis Society.

The following are suggestions to help reduce your risk of damage to the bones in your spine:

1)      Avoid standing with your feet planted on the ground and twisting your spine

Example: putting shopping bags into your car – ask for assistance

Example: lifting heavy bags into your car – only half fill the bags


2)      Avoid bending forward from your waist whenever possible

Example: Picking an item up off the floor – Purchase a Reacher (approx. €10) to pick items up from the floor.

Example: If you have a cough – hug a pillow sitting upright


3)      Avoid regular sit ups and abdominal crunches– Many people do not seem to be aware that 85% of people with Osteoporosis are undiagnosed. This is why it is essential that people are thoroughly assessed for risk factors for bone loss. This should be done by a health care professional who is up to date on osteoporosis, PRIOR to beginning any form of exercise.


4)      Any exercise or stretch which places stress on a person’s spine: touching your toes for example could cause damage. Those with severe undiagnosed osteoporosis can fracture ribs when coughing or sneezing. This is why it is so important about the type of exercise you do.


Did you know that only 50% of women with broken bones in their spine are actually diagnosed?

We do not have a figure for men, as so few men are actually diagnosed, even though one in four men over 50 are affected by this disease.

Did you know that more men pass away from Osteoporosis then prostate cancer?

This is why we need all of you to help support our services by becoming a member or making a donation. We only receive €4,252 a year government funding and we need your support to keep our services open.  


If you have any of the following you should be investigated thoroughly:

1)      If you have back pain, especially if it is in your mid or upper back.

2)      If you have lost height – All senior citizens and those younger, who have been diagnosed with bone loss, should have their height checked every year. It is important that you get this done in the same facility.

3)      If your posture has changed – for example, your shoulders have become rounded.

4)      If your head is protruding forward from your body – you might not have noticed but loved ones may.

5)      If you have developed a hump on your back

6)      If you have developed a pot belly or notice your clothes are not fitting the way they used too.



1)      If the causes of your bone loss have been assumed (genetics, menopause etc.) and not actually investigated, you could be at a higher risk of fracturing.
         Since there are nearly 200 causes of bone loss, it is essential that all causes of bone loss are found and addressed.

2)      Sensitivity to gluten and wheat appear to be one of the most common causes of bone loss in Ireland. It is estimated that 300,000 in Ireland who are tested for Coeliac disease are negative.
          These people are not true Coeliac but are sensitive and at risk of losing bone. Are you one of these people?

3)      The Irish Osteoporosis Society does not support “Drug Holidays”. Osteoporosis is a disease and it needs to be treated.

4)      Did you know that a person should not be on a Bisphosphonate treatment/s for more than five years in total? There are other treatments available. 

5)      Be assessed for an exercise programme by someone who is up to date and regularly attends Osteoporosis conferences.

6)      Bring a copy of your entire DXA scan report into the person who is teaching the class you want to attend. Ask the person to explain your entire report to you.
         If the person cannot explain the report to you, how can they put a safe, appropriate exercise programme together for you?

7)      You do need to build up the strength of the muscles in your spine however it is so important that you do this with an expert in the area.