JUMPING could hold the key to preventing falls in post-menopausal women.
Researchers at Victoria’s Deakin University have found that explosive power, such as jumping, might be key to help post-menopausal women with osteoporosis to keep their balance and help to prevent falls.
Post-menopausal women often struggle with their balance due to low bone mass, or osteoporosis, which also makes them at a higher risk of bone fractures after a fall.
Associate Professor Daniel Belavy from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, said until now there has been limited research in this area.
“The study tested 63 women aged 57 to 74 years who had low bone mass at their spine or hip on their ability to jump, stand on one leg and try and keep their balance on both stable and unstable surfaces, their leg-press strength and calf-muscle size and fat content.
“We found in these women, neuromuscular power was in fact more important for them in terms of balance, rather than muscle strength or size.”
Neuromuscular power is a measure of how quick, fast and hard, with intensity, that a person can move.
“For example, someone might have huge muscles and be strong, but they might not be able to use that quickly. You can think of a boxer versus a body builder,” said Associate Professor Belavy.
“We found that the women’s ability to jump was related to their postural control or balance, but not how ‘strong’ they were or how big their calf muscles were.”
Associate Professor Belavy said controlling balance is a complicated task and requires control of the body’s core mass as well as the ability to anticipate adjustments to posture.
He said while most postural training approaches have looked at strength training, the study suggests explosive power training (think squats, jumps, hops and step-ups) could be important to integrate into falls prevention and balance training programs in post-menopausal women with low bone mass.
“We all lose muscle power as we age, and it is important for post-menopausal women in particular to try and include some form of rapid, explosive muscular or movement training into their fitness routines,” he said.
It is advised to consult your health professional or a qualified accredited exercise physiologist, and if you have known health issues, a qualified accredited clinical exercise physiologist before starting any exercise routine.
The Deakin study was published in Osteoporosis International.