4 steps to newer, healthier, and more durable bones

Bone care begins with you. ORA Surgeon, Dr. J.C. Clark, shares some great tips for better bones! A specialist in sports medicine and shoulder surgery, Dr. Clark says healthy bones will keep you looking good on the outside, and healthy on the inside!

Like most orthopedic surgeons, I am obsessed about bone and particularly its health. (I often tell my financial advisor that the most important stock in my life is bone stock, specifically the bone stock of my patients. This is because poor or brittle bone stock makes my job as a surgeon that much more difficult.)

J.C. Clark
Dr. J.C. Clark, ORA Orthopedics

Little does anybody realize that all of the bones in our body are in a constant state of flux or turnover. This baseline state of bone remodeling consists of bone breakdown and buildup.

When we are younger, the trend is toward more bone building, but as we age, the balance can shift to the side of more bone breakdown. Too much breakdown, and the bones become brittle and easily broken. This is the state of osteoporosis.

However, there are 4 effective steps you can do to help prevent the shift in your bone metabolism toward the osteoporosis spectrum:

1. Feed your bones.

Strengthening bones starts with feeding your body the correct amount of building blocks to make bone, specifically calcium and vitamin D.

The amount of each element actually depends on your age, gender, and whether or not you have a previous diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis.

According to the National Institutes of Health, men over 50 should be getting 1,000mg of calcium per day and 600 IU of vitamin D per day. Women are recommended to take in slightly more calcium per day at 1,200 mg.

2. Get some sun.

Yeah, you just heard it. A doctor telling you to get some sun. But not too much! I don’t want to make my dermatology colleagues angry.

Ten to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure per day is good enough to allow Vitamin D to be made by your body.

By getting the building blocks of bone synthesis on a daily basis, your body is set up for some serious bone creation.

3. Stress your bones.

Our musculoskeletal system loves to work. It desires motion and movement and activity.

In fact, there is a physiological law called Wolff’s Law which states that “the body will adapt to the loads under which it is placed.”

This is an elegant, academic way of saying that bones get stronger and muscles bigger when they are put under stress.

The “stress” I am talking about is weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs for strengthening bone, and resistance training (weight-lifting) for enlarging muscles.

Engaging in some sort of daily activity incorporating one or both of these types of exercises will jump start your body’s bone-building cells (osteoblasts) to start rockin’ out newer, healthier, and more durable bone.

4. Avoid bad habits.

The final step in preventing osteoporosis is avoiding the habits that sap your body’s ability to make bone. I’m mainly talking about smoking and alcohol abuse.

Smoking and heavy alcohol use impair the absorption of calcium by your body, reduce the blood supply to bones, and decelerate the activity of bone-building cells.

All of these effects combined lead to decreased bone formation and a more fragile bone architecture.

By incorporating the above steps of a diet with the proper amount of calcium and vitamin D, daily weight-bearing or resistance exercise, and avoiding smoking and heavy alcohol use, you are not only going to look good on the outside, but your bones will be healthier on the inside.