Advice from the IOS during COVID-19

Keeping safe with advice from the IOS during COVID-19. What we are going through right now is surreal and can be stressful, which in turn can stress your bones leading to bone loss. You must continue to take your Osteoporosis treatment to prevent fractures. It is also important to try to reduce stress.  No one can control what is happening about COVID-19 but you can try to control how you deal with it.

Check out Managing medication during COVID-19 & self isolation / Staying fracture free during COVID-19 & self isolation / Useful tips for Osteoporosis COVID-19 & self isolation.

Below are some suggestions to reduce your chances of catching the virus.

Please also heed advice from the HSE or Government notices about the disease or other trusted sources of information.

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds after touching anything that has come into your home.
  • Wipe down door handles and taps daily.
  • Open your post carefully, as you will need to wash your hands after touching it. The other option is to leave your post for 24 hours, which is how long the virus stays on paper. However, we would still recommend washing your hands.
  • Either wipe down the outside of all boxes of food etc delivered to your home or let them sit for 24 hours in a corner out of harm’s way.
  • Do not allow anyone into your home unless it is an emergency or concerns your health. If you have family living nearby, you could (or they could) put a chair or bench outside one of your windows and let grandchildren speak to you through an open window (or on the phone) but ensure a distance of six feet (two metres). If you have a neighbour or friend close by this is also an option.
  • If you must go out for food shopping etc, then use a thick scarf if you do not have a mask. If it is possible, get shopping delivered. Make sure to wear gloves that can be washed or use disposable gloves when handling a shopping trolley or basket.
  • If you are over 70 then respect the advice about cocooning. It is difficult but necessary and will reduce your chances of contracting the virus.

If you find you are anxious or bored you might try some of the following:

  • Dig out those books or articles you have put aside and never had the time to read.
  • Write those letters to family or friends that you kept meaning to do.
  • Organise your family photos, naming who is in them!
  • Write or type up your family tree or incidences that you found amusing in your lifetime.
  • If you physically can do so without causing pain or putting yourself at risk of an injury or fracture, you could do some spring cleaning of your wardrobes and kitchen cabinets. Ideally, items should be placed between the hip and eye level. Anyone at high risk to fracture or who has already broken bones in their back mustn’t attempt this.
  • Use the internet to find sites offering meditation or mindfulness. There are also lots of apps on your phone or computer that can be diverting. We will send out a list of these separately.
  • Exercise can also help to reduce stress levels. Again, there is lots of free stuff on the internet.
  • Keep updated on what is happening but also take time away from the news. Avoid too much social media.

The importance of appropriate exercise during this time.

Anyone who has bone loss needs to be extremely careful about what type of stretches and exercises they do, to prevent breaking bones.

When a person has initially been diagnosed with bone loss or the causes of bone loss have not been found and addressed, we do not recommend any form of exercise other than walking and/or walking up and downstairs, as long as this does not cause pain. These recommendations should stay in place until all the causes of your bone loss have been investigated and addressed.

Don’t make any assumptions before you are diagnosed completely. If you are on a prescribed Osteoporosis treatment you must continue to take it.

We do not have a standard set of exercises that we send out as each person needs to be assessed individually. A person can look perfectly fine but have severe undiagnosed Osteoporosis. For example,  there are 19-year olds with severe bone loss. The most important fact for those with bone loss is that you are at risk of fracturing or refracturing, therefore it is much safer and less painful, to slowly build up your bone strength.

WE DO NOT EVER recommend the following exercises when you have bone loss:

Touching your toes with your legs straight, regular sit-ups, twisting of your back with your feet on the ground. Examples of these include:  golf, skipping, trampolines, excessive weights, vibration machines, lifting of children in and out of a cot or car, high impact exercises such as box drops or heel drops, due to risk of fracture.

If you have been told that you have broken bones in your back or severe Osteoporosis, which is a T score of -3.0 or higher in any area on your DXA scan results, we recommend the following:

Initially, no lifting anything over three pounds.

Put food items in a trolley and only half fill the bags.

Do not use a vacuum, stretch up for items, or twist your body to either side with your feet planted on the ground, no stretches or exercise that put stress on your back. Examples include regular sit-ups, touching your toes with your legs straight, golf, trampolines, high impact, vibration machines, excessive weights. No lifting of children in and out of a cot or car.

Exercises we normally recommend for those with bone loss:

Tai chi, walking up and down flights of stairs, gentle weights which are slowly increased, tennis, brisk walking making sure to change pace and pathway. Pilates can be helpful but only after being assessed by a health professional who has reviewed your DXA scan results to see what stretches and exercises are safe for you to do.

Dancing is one of the best forms of weight-bearing as long as you have good balance.

Exercise in water can help build up muscle strength and endurance without putting excess stress on joints but you would still need to do weight-bearing exercise.