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Topic: How to specifically improve the spine?

Forum: Bone Health and Bone Loss —

Talk with others about bone density, osteopenia and osteoporosis, and ways to keep your bones strong

Posted on: May 22, 2018 10:29AM

NicolaSue wrote:

Hi Ladies,

I've had 3 DEXA Bone Mass Density scans now and my levels are going down (firmly in the osteopenia range). Strangely my spine has deteriorated 8% in just 2 years vs about 3% for my hips.

I really increased my exercise after the first DEXA and do gym weight bearing sessions twice a week plus a long walk. However it seems that this is not doing anything for the spine.

What form of exercise would specifically target the spine? I was wondering about walking but with a weighted jacket?

Would welcome any views

LCIS diagnosed Spring 2017. Vacuum excision biopsy. First follow up mammo 2018 - clear
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May 22, 2018 10:32AM Ingerp wrote:

Nicola I am no expert but can tell you yoga is all about the spine. Every class should include the six ways it can be moved. Try a couple of youtube videos, or if you've practiced before, pull out all of those stretches/twists. (I had to stop for a while after my last surgery but just the last few days have been doing a tiny bit on my own before leaving the gym--and I've definitely targeted spine movement. I think that's what I miss the most.)

Dx 3/11/2016, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/22/2016 Lumpectomy Surgery 4/19/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 5/17/2016 Whole-breast: Breast Dx 3/2/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/12/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 5/17/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/17/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 8/19/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
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May 23, 2018 05:16AM NicolaSue wrote:

Hi - this is really helpful re yoga. What I am finding it difficult to get my head around is that all the weight bearing exercise I've been doing in the gym is apparently good for the hips but not the spine. I can't think why treadmill , for example, is ONLY working on hips not the spine. What could one do in the gym that IS good for the spine. Skipping? I'm a bit puzzled!

LCIS diagnosed Spring 2017. Vacuum excision biopsy. First follow up mammo 2018 - clear
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May 23, 2018 07:43AM Ingerp wrote:

Nicola--I asked my personal trainer son and got this response:

"Squatting or deadlifting. She needs axial loading. Squatting with a bar on her back. She needs enough weight to stimulate bone production."

Dx 3/11/2016, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/22/2016 Lumpectomy Surgery 4/19/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 5/17/2016 Whole-breast: Breast Dx 3/2/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/12/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 5/17/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/17/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 8/19/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
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May 23, 2018 08:13AM NicolaSue wrote:

Sounds painful but I will try that Ingerp - many thanks!

LCIS diagnosed Spring 2017. Vacuum excision biopsy. First follow up mammo 2018 - clear
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May 23, 2018 08:54AM Egads007 wrote:

Nicola & Ingerp - Amen. The mighty squat and deadlift are an enormously vital foundation to strength training/bone building. I do these (along with lunges) during every work out. If I can suggest that you start VERY slow. Jumping in too fast can cause injury & pain especially if your form is off. Form is vital. Start with squats, body weight only. Keep the knees inline or behind the toes as you do down if you don't want knee injury. Don't stick your butt out, keep the pelvis forward. These are excellent beginners videos:

Squats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVpojWs8lQg

Lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDJ1SsVQn3o

Deadlift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiGk8g3e41w

Be sure to start with body weight or very light weigh only (cans of peas). Progress and add weight slowly. As for the deadlift, start with the dumbbell like stance in the video and change over to a broomstick if you want to place the weight on the shoulders. I recommend doing 3 sets of 4-8 repetitions 2-3 times a week in the beginning. Any more might turn you off, it's not a race. Slow and steady. Cheers!

I should be at the gym right now LOL! Off I go. Cheers!

"I base all my fashion choices on what doesn't itch" (Gilda Radner) Chemotherapy 3/20/2013 Doxil (doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 8/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2013 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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May 23, 2018 09:08AM Ingerp wrote:

RAY RAH Egads!! I just added weights back in yesterday after a couple of weeks of cardio only (dang college graduations!!). I did a Body Pump class for several years and just re: the Romanian deadlift (which these are vs. a regular deadlift where the bar starts on the ground), I was taught the bar should not come down below your knees. It's a funny movement at first--in my head kind of a pike. You should feel it in your hamstring/lower butt. I've been going to the smaller location of my gym since my surgery, where bars are rare, so you can use dumbbells too.

Dx 3/11/2016, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/22/2016 Lumpectomy Surgery 4/19/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 5/17/2016 Whole-breast: Breast Dx 3/2/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/12/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 5/17/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/17/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 8/19/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
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May 23, 2018 09:34AM Egads007 wrote:

Ingerp - awesome! Another gym rat!!! The reg deadlift is a recent addition to my workout (6 months or so now). I had huge problems with my armpit putzing out at first with a lot of upper body lifting, hence the vid I posted...I think it built my endurance/ability for the regs. The first time I stepped into the rack I was petrified I would look like this:


(Yeah that’s a squat but you get the idea lol). Wonder where he got those pink leggings?

You’re spot on, hams and glutes should be feeling it. Some days my DOMS make it hard to sit topee lol...yeah ok egads, TMI!

"I base all my fashion choices on what doesn't itch" (Gilda Radner) Chemotherapy 3/20/2013 Doxil (doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 8/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2013 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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May 23, 2018 10:14AM NicolaSue wrote:

What about skipping? Isn't that good for bones - I don't mean just skipping but skipping as part of a solid gym work out.

LCIS diagnosed Spring 2017. Vacuum excision biopsy. First follow up mammo 2018 - clear
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May 23, 2018 10:49AM Egads007 wrote:

Nicola - Skipping is def going to add benefit, to heart, core, upper & lower muscle and bone! It's listed as one of the many exercises to ward off osteo.(by osteo foundation). It is considered high impact however (depending on the intensity), so you might want to check with your doc first. Actually check on all weight bearing exercises first, considering your recent scans you have to err on the side of caution. You'll most likely be told that strength/endurance exercise is essential, but to proceed cautiously. Definitely proceed with approval though, and as I said before, go slow and steady.

"I base all my fashion choices on what doesn't itch" (Gilda Radner) Chemotherapy 3/20/2013 Doxil (doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 8/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2013 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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May 23, 2018 02:34PM Ingerp wrote:

Egads--I always worry that when I talk about gym stuff, people assume I've been athletic all my life. Nothing could be further from the truth. I sat on my fanny for a good 20 (30?) years. But about 4.5 years ago my oldest tore his ACL, came home for the surgery, wanted to do PT at a place affiliated with a gym, and I decided to go ahead and join when he did. I started probably 3-4 days/week but with all of my kids grown and gone, I really don't have an excuse not to go pretty much every day. I can't say I feel like I'm super in-shape, but I *am* sure I'm not going to end up like my mother, who at 89 is perfectly healthy but getting less mobile by the year (currently uses a walker but talks about a wheelchair). I do believe exercise gives us better quality of life as we age, mostly in terms of joints/flexibility/balance. I like to think I'm at least treading water physically-aging-wise.

Re: skipping--I bought a jump rope right before my dx. I think it's gotta help with all of the little connective tissues in your hips/knees/ankles/feet. But it *is* high impact. I added a little jogging on a treadmill last year and I'm pretty sure that's what caused the arthritis in my knees. I'm completely off the treadmill and only doing cardio on elliptical and/or stationary bike. Not sure I'll be picking the jump rope any time soon. :-(

Dx 3/11/2016, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/22/2016 Lumpectomy Surgery 4/19/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 5/17/2016 Whole-breast: Breast Dx 3/2/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/12/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 5/17/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/17/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 8/19/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
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May 23, 2018 07:33PM Egads007 wrote:

Ingerp - Ditto, I was athletic as a kid and into young adulthood....my god we must have danced 5 nights a week (the 80s were great, the big hair and Final Net hairspray must have added weight lifting to the mix lol)....then zilch. My keister was just as dormant, in hibernation actually for 20+ years. Just before the cancer I was packing 20-25 lbs extra that I kept putting off losing until 'tomorrow'. After chemo I'd added another 25 lbs for good measure. I ate like a maniac! At the half way point my BS said "wow you look....ummmm...robust!" I replied "dude, say it, you're fat". I started the gym after treatment but didn't do much more than elliptical and remained fat until I hired a trainer and went Paleo. My "transformation" was pretty swift after, and the weights became addictive. Today (3-5 days/week) I still have ground to cover...the last stubborn 10 lbs that of course sits like a hovercraft balloon on my tummy. I swear it's declared squatters rights! I'mholding my own from a fitness perspective but like you trying to avoid a miserable retirement. As far as I'm concerned you deadlift and squat so that puts your membership in the Gym Rat Swole Sister club permanent!

PS if your gym has an Arc Trainer switch up from the elliptical, better cardio/strength machine that keeps the knees firmly in form, less injury. Rowing machine is another great choice to avoid injury and build strength when the knees/joints kick up.


"I base all my fashion choices on what doesn't itch" (Gilda Radner) Chemotherapy 3/20/2013 Doxil (doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 8/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2013 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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May 24, 2018 08:13AM NicolaSue wrote:

What's shocked me about my DEXA scan is this - I had my first one in 2015 and it was not brilliant (oseteopnia). So I start to take more care - weight bearing exercise, better diet etc. Then in 2016 the DEXA showed there had been a significant improvement. I was still osteopenic range but bones had improved in both hip and spine. I still kept up the new health lifestyle and was predicting good things.

You can imagine therefore how dreadful I felt when I had a scan just recently in 2018 and found there had been an 8% deteriorating since 2016. I was gutted because I'd already put in so many good things. The DEXAs were same place, same machine, same operator so the bones really had got worse.

LCIS diagnosed Spring 2017. Vacuum excision biopsy. First follow up mammo 2018 - clear
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May 24, 2018 08:32AM Ingerp wrote:

Nicola--you might look at it like think how much worse it might have been if you *hadn't* been doing the exercise?

Egads--I undertook a substantial change about two years ago. Was having a post-rads follow-up with my RO, and I was asking some general health questions (along the "what do *you* do?" line) when she told me all of the non-weight-loss reasons she was intermittent fasting. Something about insulin resistance and . . . ?, but I got home from that appt, read up on it, began skipping breakfast, and am still doing that. Along with slight changes in diet, stepping it up at the gym just a bit, and getting on the dang scale, I lost ~35 pounds in like 10 months. I haven't weighed myself since last summer but I know most of that weight is still gone. I googled the arc trainer and it does not look familiar, but it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I haven't thought about my knees, like, at all lately. One got a new ACL 15 years ago but the other one is more arthritic and has been crankier in recent years. The elliptical/stationary bike combo must be working well for them. (FWIW, hubs knows way too much about knees through various injuries and tells *everyone* who comes to him with a knee issue to get on a bike. All of that synovial fluid stuff.) (And I will absolutely take the Gym Rat Swole Sister moniker!!)

Dx 3/11/2016, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/22/2016 Lumpectomy Surgery 4/19/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 5/17/2016 Whole-breast: Breast Dx 3/2/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 3/12/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 5/17/2018 Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 5/17/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 8/19/2018 Whole-breast: Breast
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May 25, 2018 09:44AM NicolaSue wrote:

Okay so I had a long think when in the gym today - I am by no means an expert but surely the vipr is spine strengthening. Almost everything you do with it involves impact on the spine. At least I think it does. What do others think?

LCIS diagnosed Spring 2017. Vacuum excision biopsy. First follow up mammo 2018 - clear

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