“You are a skinny white woman. That is your main risk of bone fracture.”
That’s what my doctor said .He knows I would not take the least bit of offense at this comment. I smiled and said: “Yes, I know that.” I did know it. I am the polar opposite of “big boned” with wrists the size of a child’s. My doctor explained that although my bone density scans show I am a “low risk” for fracture those tests are a very ‘grey’ technology. The results can vary dramatically if you change locations or if the technician places you differently on the table. And to make matters even more curious the medical profession is undecided as to whether bone density is a reliable predictor of fracture. In his characteristic forthright manner he looked at me and said: “We actually know squat about bone density and fracture risk.” I like a doctor that is honest.
I am also a horse rider. Risky sport. There is no history of fragile bones in my family tree. My bones are ok now but as I get older (I am currently 67) will they break if I have a fall? Well I am not giving up riding my horse because that is what gets me up in the morning. So, skinny white woman that I am, what can I do to help myself and my bones?
Maintain muscle strength. I know that as you get older muscle mass decreases and good muscle tone is harder to maintain. I need good muscles to keep me upright on the horse and also off the horse to regain my balance if I trip or stumble.
Maintain good core strength and balance. On Biasini, my horse, I need good balance. If he decides to spook and dart sideways I have to go with him. If I stay on the trajectory we were on then I’m going straight, he’s turning, I’m heading for the ground. So balance and core strength are paramount.
How can I do this?
At the gym I work with free weights and with machines. My favourite is to stand on a Bosu ball and do exercises with 5 lb barbells. I do bicep curls, straight arm raises, over the head arm raises; anything you would do with free weights I do standing on the Bosu ball. I do each exercise 10 times and then repeat for a total of 20 for each exercise.
Also on the Bosu ball I can do crunches.
Another exercise that increases core strength and balance is to hold a 10 pound medicine ball, sitting on the Bosu ball, feet off the ground, hold the ball out to my right then out to my left. Each left-right movement counts as one. I do 20 repetitions of this and then 10 crunches. Then back to the medicine ball for a further 20 then a final 10 crunches.
There are lots of other exercises that I do with machines in the gym but the Bosu ball ones are giving me a double benefit of improving core and abdominal strength and also my balance at the same time.
And that, Dear Readers, is my skinny white woman’s answer to bone fragility.