The Benefits of CrossFit for Bone Health

Emma Nicole CrossFit Rx'D

Emma Nicole CrossFit Rx’D

There has been an increasing awareness of our health and fitness. Many health providers know that prevention of medical issues is far better than a cure. Today’s aging population (over 50) is faced with an increase in spine, hip, shoulder, and wrist fractures.

Why? This is because of Osteoporosis. This is a disease in which the bone’s density decreases in both cortical (solid) and trabecular (spongy) bone making it more fragile and likely to fracture.

This is a problem that today’s health care providers are battling. Studies show that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will sustain an osteoporotic fracture. Women are the most at risk as they age due to hormonal changes just before menopause. Many readers may have heard of grandmas breaking their hip or grandpas breaking their wrist. These types of fractures are usually a result of osteoporosis.

Currently the best way to treat osteoporosis is to try and prevent it. Peak bone mass is achieved between the ages of 18 to 26. After about 35, the body begins to build less new bone. Everyone loses bone mass with age.

The best way to build bone mass is through weight bearing exercise. Research has shown that resistance training and impact loading exercises can restore bone mineral density in middle-aged men and women. Weight training exercises have traditionally been popular among more men than women.

amanda allen

Amanda Allen

Today, both sexes are embracing weight training exercises, resistance training, and plyometric exercises. These exercises are great for strengthening muscle and more importantly, in my opinion, building and maintaining bone mass for your future.

The reason I raise this issue is because many younger women are discouraged from weight training and performing high intensity workouts, like CrossFit, because they think its only for “ boys”.

When performed with proper technique, weight lifting can not only help you lose weight and build lean mass, but can also help you work towards a healthier future. This is something that people rarely think about when they are young.

People generally want to stay lean to prevent high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, etc. Many people in their middle age, who develop osteoporosis, are thin and relatively fit. You may look great at the gym from swimming or walking, but this may not be enough for the future health of your bones.

Weight training, jogging, plyometrics are all weight bearing exercises that can help you prevent bone loss as you age. Along with exercise, a daily regimen of calcium and Vitamin D are also essential.

Most of us get these micronutrients from milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables. If you are in your 40’s or older, you may want to consider taking supplements that contain Calcium and Vitamin D.

This is food for thought and an opinion that I hope will help you continue to train hard and live healthy.

Daniel Acevedo
Daniel C. Acevedo, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon who has a special interest in weight training and injury prevention. He is the author of a number of book chapters, scientific studies, as well as surgical training videos for the orthopedic surgery community. He hopes to bridge the gap between exercise and orthopedic medicine. His perspective can help avid CrossFitters avoid injury and make them aware of potential problems that can develop with poor technique or form. Daniel holds an M.D. from the UC Irvine, completed his residency in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Southern California, and is currently finishing his fellowship in advanced Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at the renowned Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, PA.