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How to protect the hip from fractures new research

July 9th 2005

Courtesy of NIH
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Targeted exercise may help prevent hip fractures in the elderly, according to new research in the July 9th edition of Lancet Medical Journal.  Researchers found that the thin cortical zone of the upper femoral neck became substantially thinner with age.  Walking does not substantially improve the load bearing capacity of the hip.  Other exercises are recommended, including bicycling, sculling, gymnastics and weights.

The new research by Dr. Paul M. Mayhew and his colleagues at Cambridge University is based on CT scans of 77 femurs of deceased people between 20 and 95 years of age.  The researchers found that as people age the upper femur becomes thinner.  Substantial thinning of the cortical layer in the neck of the bone that connects the hip ball to the rest of the thighbone was seen.


Previous research has found Weight resistive exercises can prevent bone mineral loss.  Earlier research has also found that excessive repetition does not substantially prevent bone loss.  In fact animal studies show the first 40 repetitions of an exercise stimulate greater than 95% of bone formation. Additional repetitions do not significantly increase bone formation.

It has been estimated that the body loses tensile strength and elasticity of bones by about 2% per decade from age 20 to 90 years (Hayes 1986).  The new research narrows the bone loss to the hip region.  In women, cortical thickness fell by a staggering 6.4% per decade, and slightly less for men.  This is important because weight bearing capacity is related to the thickness.  Bone is only one fifth the weight of steel but can withstand two times the compression force as granite, or four times the compression force as concrete.

Not all doctors agree on the best type of strength training exercises.  Always check with your doctor before beginning a regimen.  Some common hip strengthening exercises include side lifts, Hip Flexion, Straight Leg Raises, Hip Adduction and Hip Extension.   Many of these exercises can be found at Nismat.org, along with diagrams. 

Pilates has become very popular in recent years.  Pilates offers some exercises that may benefit hip strength.  The prone opposition arm/leg raise using a ball will extend the hip.  Similar exercises can be found at bodytrends.com.

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM