What Advice Runners Need To Know About Bone Density

Long skeletal bone demonstrating the bone density cycle and blog title

There has been a surprising level of interest for bone health of late. With this in mind, I wanted to share some knowledge on bone density and how to preserve it.

The importance of bone growth at a young age

By the time we reach our early 20’s we have already reached our peak bone density. The more dense your bones at this stage in life, the more reserves you will have as you transition into your later years. This is why nutrition & exercise is so important throughout childhood. There is however, some proactive measures we can take to increase and preserve our bone density while in our later years.

Bone growth through exercise

As seen in the blog illustration, the bone structure is dynamic and ever-changing. When the bone receives ‘shock’ through exercise it breaks down & builds up it’s framework similar to micro muscle tears before rebuilding into a stronger muscle. Unlike muscle, the bone takes longer to repair, so it’s important we allow enough ‘build-up’ recovery before another ‘break down’ exercise bout. For more information head to my blog about stress fractures.

Right type of exercise

runner doing box jumps in the gym

Bones will respond and adapt more efficiently to sudden ‘shock’ that vibrates through the bone or high-level forces from the muscle pulling on it in different directions. For example:

  • Team sports like soccer and basketball
  • Loud step ups onto a step
  • Marching on firm ground, driving your heels into the floor
  • Landing with stiff legs off a small drop

Running is inefficient at building bone density

This might be disheartening for some, however running is a lot better for muscles and bone development compared to a sedentary lifestyle. But because running is a soft impact activity (compared to slamming your heels into the ground) the bones will not trigger growth as efficiently. Therefore, it is important to implement some of these strategies in order to maintain adequate amounts of bone density throughout your running career.

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