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How Correct Posture and a Holistic Approach Helped My Osteoporosis

February, 2021


Sheila enjoying carrying her granddaughter.

I am a small-boned, postmenopausal woman with osteoporosis. I first showed signs of osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) 10 years ago and agreed with my physician to take a Western medicine called Boniva. After a year of nasty side effects, I discontinued the medicine and decided to try to pursue other options.

I researched and experimented and eventually found a routine comprised of nutritional supplements, weight-bearing exercises with a trainer twice a week, and walking as much as possible. This routine seemed to help a little but was complicated by an undiagnosed fissure in my L5/S1 lumbar disc. At the time, I was in chronic pain and in constant fear of having a back spasm with each weight-bearing exercise. I did my best, but the gusto I needed to push through these exercises soon evaporated.

Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bone and a reduction in its density. Good posture 
may well be key to the skeleton weight-bearing correctly and maintaining bone density. Wikimedia Commons

In 2015 a DEXA scan (bone density test) indicated I was at a score of -2.5 and officially in the osteoporosis category. I decided that I was just not doing enough. I saw an Ayurvedic doctor and upped my game by taking Ayurvedic herbs to improve bone density as well as spending several months at an Ayurvedic treatment center in India. 

As I look back, I see my life at that time was not going the way I wanted it to; my attention was constantly drawn to my back pain, and now, osteoporosis. But I remained hopeful that what I was doing would do the trick. In 2016 I had a partial discectomy to correct the fissured disc in L5/S1. Although I was able to get the disc repaired, the back pain continued. That year I was limited in the weight-bearing exercises I could do. 


CT scans showing the annular fissure at Sheila’s L5/S1 intervertebral disc. 
When a disc’s tough outer casing tears, some of the disc filling (nucleus pulposus) 
is squeezed out, often toward sensitive nerve roots.

Two years went by and in 2018, my next DEXA scan indicated my numbers had worsened to -3.1. Now there was no option for me but Western medicine to avoid fractures. I did what was needed and took a onetime infusion of a medicine called Reclast (Zoledronic Acid). The recommendation from the doctor was to continue with annual doses for 3-5 years to see results. However, I stopped after one year due to jaw pain, which is a known possible side effect.

In 2019 my life took a positive turn. I read a book by Esther Gokhale called 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back and immediately sensed that I had found the solution to my back problems. I took the Gokhale Method® Foundations Course in June 2019 and put this newfound knowledge into practice. The Gokhale Method turned everything around for me by correcting my bad posture, which almost entirely resolved the back pain. I did the exercises at the back of the book religiously and attended every online workshop. I could now sit, stand, bend, walk and actively exercise without fear of pain or spasm. I have continued to thrive ever since with NO BACK PAIN.

During the last year and a half, I have continued practicing the Gokhale Method and now attend the Gokhale Exercise offerings 7 days per week. The daily programs frequently include dancing, bobbing, jogging, jiggling, shaking, and light-impact movements.  I also practiced Qi Gong, a martial arts type exercise, 3 times per week. I have continued taking the same supplements that I had prior to 2018: RAW Calcium and Cissus quadrangularis (an Indian Ayurvedic herb that I have taken for 6 years).


A moment from our 1-2-3 Move session, November 19th 2020. The theme was 
“Jiggling and Jumping.” Movements that cultivate a strong core and protect your back can be fun!

On November 30, 2020 I once again went for a DEXA scan of my spine, hips, and femur. The next day I was filled with anxiety about what my results would show. I was afraid that my bone density might have plummeted and that I would now be in serious danger of a fracture. I had already planned on resuming Western meds and had even decided on which one would be the best choice for me in the long term.

When I opened my DEXA scan results I was shocked. My lumbar  spine T-scores indicated that I had improved from -3.1 in 2018 to -2.7 in 2020. Compared to the previous exam, the BMD (Bone Mineral Density) had increased 6.1% within the spine and increased 4.9% within the femurs. This increase in spinal and femoral density was statistically significant.

T-Score Category

2018

2020

Lumbar Spine T-score

-3.1

-2.7

Hips T-score 

-2.6

-2.3

Left Femur Neck T-score

-2.5

-2.2

Right Femur Neck T-score 

-2.6

-2.2

On Dec 10, 2020 I went for a follow-up visit with my rheumatologist to review the lab results and get some perspective on the DEXA scan. He said that my bone density improvement was extraordinary. The Reclast infusion I had completed 2 years prior (one time only) was expected to only preserve my bone density at -3.1.  There was a tiny chance of a 1% improvement, but a 6.1% improvement was not an expected result. He remarked that this kind of positive change is extremely rare. He kept saying, “Keep doing what you are doing, because it is working and for now there is no need to return to Western meds.” At that point I told him about the Gokhale Method and showed him 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back.


Exercise with weights, when done with healthy postural form, 
will help increase bone density and strength. 
Gokhale Method teacher Eric Fernandez shows how on the
Gokhale Fitness Program.

Other than the Reclast infusion in 2018, the only additions I have made to my routine are the Gokhale Method daily techniques, the Gokhale Exercise program including 1-2-3 Move with Esther, and Qi Gong.  I have been dealing with this bone density issue for about 10 years now and have tried a large number of different approaches—this is the first time I have had any kind of an improvement in my bone density.

I want to emphasize that I am a strong believer in Western medicine. I will certainly use it again if my bone density decreases. In the meantime, I will continue with my Gokhale Method routine and get tested again in a year to see if the improvement lasts.

For now, my expectations are GREAT!

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Comments

So great to hear of your success Sheila. Very Inspiring to have those numbers! I had not planned to stop, and now feel even more motivated! Thanks for sharing.

Sheila, this story about your bone density progress since following the Gokhale Method gives me hope that I can change my osteopenia numbers for the better too!  I have been a student of Esther, her Method and incredible teachers for about 7 months and like so many, have gone from not being able to walk without debilitating pain to dancing every morning in the 123 movement class . Your story has really opened my eyes to yet another benefit I will get from the classes I zoom into daily. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your inspirational personal journey which will help me and so many others dealing with bone loss. ❤️

Wow, wow, wow!  This is such encouraging news to learn about since I have a -3 DEXA score, too.  I will persevere!  

 

Yes do persevere, even when you get bad news, don't give up! It's good to share stories.

Best of Luck

Hi Sheila, wow!  What an inspirational story - thanks so much for sharing it with us.  xo

YAYYYY!

Gives me hope too!

Thank you!

Very inspiring story, Sheila!  So glad you have the courage of your convictions and are able make so much progress in this endeavor.

Hi, Sheila! Would you mind sharing what Ayurvedic herbs you used? And can you say anything about the Reclast infusion - I haven't heard of that...

You have motivated me to up my weight-bearing exercise game!

You and others here might be interested to know that while light impact may be good for cardio and other goals, HIGHER-impact exercise is actually what builds bone. An athletic trainer friend (who used to work as a health & fitness consultant for the British Royal Navy) told me that our osteoblasts (the cells that build bones) are stimulated by JOLTING movements, like jumping jacks. When working with people in geriatric facilities, she would have them do simple things like clap their hands to build the bones in their wrists and arms. Since I heard this, I do some deliberate stomping when I walk for exercise, and otherwise work in jolting movements where possible.

Also, I use one of these:
Weight Vest for Osteoporosis - https://shop.drfuhrman.com/weight-vest-for-osteoporosis/

Finally, my doctor told me that the damage from DEXA scans is so harmful that he suggested I never retest to monitor bone density progress. He recommended doing as much weight-bearing and higher-impact exercise as possible, minimizing acid-forming foods (and other lifestyle factors) and just trust the numbers are improving. He said it's literally not worth the risk to satisfy my curiosity that my bone density is improving.

Thanks for your awesome story - I'm inspired! <3

HI Laurie, I use an Ayurvedic herb called Cissus Quadrangularis.....I purchase an organic version of that herb from Gary N Sun phone #  888 984 3727. The name on the bottle is Asthisamhari (bonesetter).and I take one capsule twice daily with calcium. 

Regarding the Reclast, it's a once a year infusion and is frequently used with people who need to take steroids regularly. The Reclast infusion helps prevent bone loss which is a side effect of steroids.

Thanks for sharing! Osteoporosis needs a community effort.

Question for Esther or the Gokhale team: Would you consider the skeleton image on the left above to be aligned on axis? The hip bone, shoulders, and ears stack, but the spine still apears a bit S-curvy to me ...

It is an S-spine - this picture comes from a modern source and S-spine is a part of conventional wisdom about the spine.  

Congratulations, Sheila!  Thank you for sharing your inspirational story.  Keep it up...as I'm sure you will!!

 

Thanks Mary, I think you are an inspiration !!

Shiela, are you familiar with SaveOurBones.com, which emphasizes an alkaline diet (and the exercises you have been doing - Wolff's Law) to rebuild bones?

no I am not familiar with SaveOurBones but will definately look it up :)

Bone thinning as I undertand it is a natural occurence in the menopause stage of life.
a woman in her reproductive years must store large amounts of minerals, including calcium, in her bones for the future growth of her fetus and for producing her breast milk for two years postpartum.

After menopause the woman no longer needs these deposits so her body sheds these minerals, obviously her bone density is found to be much less than when she was of birthing age.

It's very natural and safe as I understand it and one should take that into consideration before trying to "correct" it.
Things like diet, sunshine and exercise make strong bones.

Sunshine, and exercise from the Gokhale Method are good actions.
Animal foods however are very high in acids, our bodies must neutralize these influxes - Carbonates, citrates, and other alkaline materials are released from the bones to neutralize these acids. Pouring dilute acid over your bones three times and more a day permanently damages and dissolves their connective tissues. The calcium and bone materials that are lost are excreted through the kidneys and can be found in the urine.

Hope that helps

Thank you for your reply. In my opinion Osteoporosis requires attention and correcting if severe. I have friends who late in the game discovered they had advanced Osteoporosis following  hip or spinal fractures. These people had a good diet, plenty of exercise and sunshine. Some women require very little attention to keep their bones in good shape, while others really need to work at it. As I mentioned in my article, I feel that correcting my posture and exercise from the Gokhale Method is really working for me :).

Thanks so much for this. l am at a loss too as l am a longtime alignment based yogi, walk, ski etc and have fairly advanced osteoporosis at 63.  I am strong and in shape and eat really well and have done so all my life actually. I also don't have any aches and pains except when I push myself skiing etc. BetterBones  https://shop.betterbones.com/products/am-i-losing-bone-right-now-the-ntx-test also advocates the alkaline diet, but sells supplements which l am not sure about. They say that many people need further supplementation especially magnesium and potassium.  My chiropractor says my bones feel strong, but yet the DEXA scan (3x) keeps getting worse. Next step is seeing an endicronologist who is ordering up a bunch of tests which will l am sure result in her prescribing an injection of something.  l really don't want to take those medicines, so may just keep on with what l am doing and hope for the best! Would love to take a Gokhale course, although not sure it will add anything to what l am doing--although it looks fun. Ideas, recommendations welcome! 

If possible, do take a Gokhale Course. I take Raw Calcium from Garden of Life, which is a calcium, magnesium, D3 supplement with other goodies in it.. I also use an Ayur Vedic herb called Cissus Quadrangularis which helps put Calcium into the bones.

Best of Luck on your journey!

.

Sheila.

What a great result. Thank you for sharing the details of what you did, and how you've improved.

ONWARD!

Mary Enright-Olson