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Weight bearing exercises on your hands and knees

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Quadruped exercises, which use all four limbs, help build strong bones. These exercises allow a person to perform safe strengthening while bearing weight through the legs and arms.  

In this video, you will see Cathy perform exercises on her hands and knees, as well as lying on her stomach on a partially deflated ball. The first exercise is called reciprocal extension, meaning if the right arm comes up the left leg will come up at the same time.

Not only is this beneficial for weight bearing but it strengthens the muscles on each side of the spine and the abdominal muscles. Notice that Cathy's back stays flat during the entire exercise and the motions are slow and controlled. I instruct Cathy to keep her stomach muscles in tight and to breathe during this one minute exercise.

Next, Cathy has a partially deflated exercise ball (you can use a rolled up pillow) under her for added support.  First, a plank is performed using the elbows for support. Again, this is creating weight bearing through the shoulders and strengthening the core and spinal muscles.how to do a plan video
As you will see, Cathy pushes her body off the exercise ball, maintaining a flat back or "neutral spine." She holds her abdominal muscles tight toward her spine during this entire exercise. The goal of this exercise is to hold the plank for 1 minute. To build up to that, a modified version is to hold the plank for 10 seconds, come down on your knees, rest for a few seconds and repeat the plank six times. You can see the muscles that are engaged in doing a plank in the graphic  (in orange).

Also, Cathy demonstrates a great upper body exercise, beneficial for the spine and posture. Again there is some weight bearing as Cathy pushes through her elbows which are directly underneath her shoulders. The deflated exercise ball (or pillow) is under her stomach and she is gently pushing through her forearms, keeping a neutral spine as the upper body lifts slightly off the ball. She's holding her abdomen in tight. Her eyes are staying down to avoid neck strain and keep her neck aligned with her spine. She then sinks back down into the ball, squeezing her shoulder blades. Notice she is breathing during the entire exercise and the lumbar spine, or lower back, is not moving at all. All movement is coming from the upper spine and scapular muscles. Watch these clips before performing the exercises to be sure you are clear on the form and number of repetitions.

If you are interested in purachsing the full osteoporosis DVD contact the Physical Therapy Center.

Contributed by Krista Magnoli, PTA @ The Physical Therapy Center in West Palm Beach, FLorida.   

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