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Updated: Jan 18

It seems there is an epidemic of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis in our midst! Our doctor recommends a DEXA scan and we discover that our T Score reading (the measure of bone mineral density) is in the negative, leading to a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis.

So many people are justifiably dismayed at this report, and many may even become too afraid to exert themselves for fear of falling and fracturing. The reality is, that there is so much which can be done to reverse or at least stabilize the condition, and these protocols have so many added benefits for the whole body.

Wellness Project presenter Catherine Stephens from the Bone Health Clinic in Dee Why, is adamant that “We must become more robust, and not more careful”.

Her Bone Health Clinic in Dee Why specializes in an evidence-based exercise protocol specifically tailored to improve/maintain bone mineral density of participants. This is excellent for patients with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis as well as anyone who wants to ensure they have strong bones into their future years.

Being able to manage and improve this condition is great news, however heavy weight-lifting needs to be approached cautiously and must be “supervised, progressive and significant loading, with special attention to pelvic floor and core stability”.

The sessions at the Bone Health Clinic also focus on balance to address fall prevention.

Not all exercise is effective for improving bone health. The method utilized by The Bone Health Clinic includes exercises such as deadlifts, chin-ups and stamping type movements. Exercises such as cycling, kayaking, swimming and walking have many other physical benefits but do not allow for weight bearing or placing stress on bones to encourage strengthening.


During the presentation, Catherine also highlighted that DEXA scans can be misleading. To achieve precise comparative readings, they need to be repeated by the same machine, by the same technician and exactly the same hip angle. There is plenty of room for error, but every negative score should be taken seriously and addressed proactively.


Early anecdotal observations are that the best results seem to be achieved when medication is combined with weight-lifting protocol.

There are a variety of medications available, some which address calcium loss and some actively promoting the production of calcium. As women lose estrogen, the body’s tendency to take away calcium for other body functions, increases.

Calcium is a mineral most often associated with healthy bones and teeth, although it also plays an important role in blood clotting, helping muscles to contract, and regulating normal heart rhythms and nerve functions. About 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in bones, and the remaining 1% is found in blood, muscle, and other tissues.


The only evidence based, non-medication protocol showing considerable improvements in bone density, is the result of the LIFTMOR Research conducted at Griffith University by a group of about 70 participants (weightlifters) and an endocrinologists, who proved that lifting heavy weights leads to bone strength gains.

The protocol specifies that over a 2-year period, participants are coached into dead lifting at least their own bodyweight in weight. To achieve results, they must repeat the program twice per week . This progressively increases both elastin and collagen in the bones as well as building bone mineral density.

Bone Health Australia also cites a correlation between weight bearing exercise, resistance and bone density maintenance, but the LIFTMOR Research showed conclusive results for specific loading:

Catherine also mentioned the difficulties of researching other non-medication protocols as funding research is difficult unless it is driven by pharmaceutical companies. Stressing fragile bones to assess the results is also risky business when fractures can be a consequence. “


There are certain risk factors that can pre-dispose us for osteoporosis and osteopenia:

  • Is genetically predisposed to osteoporosis

  • Has had cancer or undergone chemotherapy

  • Has suffered from eating disorders in early life or amenorrhea

  • Is suffering from fractures from low trauma injuries

  • Early menopause

  • long-term use of medication such as corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other conditions.

Some conditions place people at a higher risk of osteoporosis. These conditions include:

  • thyroid disease or an overactive thyroid gland

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • chronic liver and kidney disease

  • conditions that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions.

For further information, please contact Catherine Stephens, The Bone Health Clinic Dee Why, 9971 2185

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