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Overcoming the Ravages of Bone Loss

Like to regain or retain the benefits of healthy bone mass as the years slip by? You may find the key to your aspiration in a recent conversation with Alex Kumbar, franchise owner of a new enterprise called OsteoStrong, providing healing services in both Raleigh and Durham (see contact information, left).

Alex Kumbar, left, confers with OsteoStrong trainer Arturo Camejo at their Durham facility.

“Bone loss in the human body is a natural phenomenon.” notes Mr. Kumbar. “Worldwide,” he reports, “according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures that could have been prevented if they had realized that they were losing bone mass. Osteoporosis is often described as a ‘silent killer.’

“Our new enterprise—with locations in Durham and Raleigh—is called OsteoStrong. Its primary purpose is to help people build bone strength. This is especially important for those who have osteopenia or osteoporosis—diseases of low bone density—but it is valuable for anyone wishing to build and maintain healthy bone structure.

“Instead of bone density declining after age 30, putting people at risk of falling and injuring themselves,” explains Mr. Kumbar, “we now actually have a safe, quick, easy, and powerfully effective way to facilitate skeletal strength conditioning. The results of this conditioning are improved strength, balance, posture, and reduced joint and back pain. It also helps with A1C levels for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. There are other means of getting these same benefits, but OsteoStrong is unique. Amazingly, rapid skeletal strengthening can be done in just 15 minutes, once a week. It’s very easy, convenient, and has profound benefits for anyone of any age.”

The Ultimate BioHack

“We refer to OsteoStrong as the ultimate ‘BioHack’ because it uses the body’s own mechanisms to create change,” explains Mr. Kumbar. “One hundred years of research—known as Wolff’s Law—tells us, when stressed appropriately, the body will respond by building bone. So the OsteoStrong program uses high levels of pressure—in a process called osteogenic loading—to re-trigger your body to build strength and bone density.

Bone Mass and Density

Bone Loss: Bone is a living tissue that continuously changes. As we grow older, our bones still grow but they begin to lose mass or density, making them more brittle and likely to fracture. Bone mass peaks at about 25-30 years old. To determine the amount of bone loss, peak bone mass is first determined, then the rate of bone loss is measured. 

Osteopenia: This disease affects the density of bones all over the body, making our bones more brittle and increasing the chance of breakage. Once bones begin breaking, osteoporosis has set in.

Osteoporosis means “porous bones.” A healthy bone looks like a honeycomb; osteoporosis makes the holes and spaces in the honeycomb much larger.

Measuring Bone Density: The central DXA test is the most widely used measurement of bone density. It is similar to having an X-ray taken and is painless. It measures bone density at the hip and spine, or peripheral bone density measurements of the lower arm, wrist, finger, or heel. T-scores are as follows: -1.0 or above is normal bone density; -1.0 to -2.5 means low bone density or osteopenia; -2.5 or below is diagnosed as osteo-porosis

Osteogenic Loading: This process puts pressure on bones to improve density.

“The program uses specially designed equipment to put pressure on bones to trigger the bone-building response,” he explains. “There are four pieces of equipment, each focused on a different part of the body. By pushing, pulling, or lifting against each machine, you apply the necessary levels of pressure to improve bone density and strength. At any given moment the equipment will tell you how much force you’re using, so you get real-time feedback. We have a wrist scanner that measures the cortical layer of bone—the dense outer protective surface of the bone. The whole process—working on all four pieces of equipment—takes about 15 minutes, once a week.”

Impressive Results

“This program,” he explains, “was invented by Dr. John Jaquish— specifically to help his mother, Anne-Marie, who was diagnosed with osteoporosis in her fifties. Her case is an impressive example: now in her eighties, she has the bone density of a 30-year-old. And the results are lasting; even if she were to stop doing OsteoStrong, her bone density would only decline at the natural several percent per year.

“That’s a single, noteworthy example. But it’s just one example of many. We’re proud of the scientific peer-reviewed research done on how OsteoStrong helps bone density and type 2 diabetes. Other case studies have shown improvements in muscle strength and balance. For example, a study done in 2015 found a 14 percent improvement over six months in this program, as compared to 2 percent improvement from doing weight-bearing exercise. (You can find the details on that research—including the significant positive results of osteogenic loading—on our website:

“Furthermore,” says Mr. Kumbar, “we’re constantly trying to quantify the value that we’re able to deliver for each person, doing baseline markers, and revisiting them each month.”

Building Muscle as Well as Bone

After the age of 30, when people start losing bone density, the body will limit their muscle mass and strength to what their weaker bone density can handle. notes Mr. Kumbar. “OsteoStrong helps people return to their younger bone density, or if they’re young and athletic, improve bone density even further. People are now able to safely retain more muscle and even trigger new muscle-building.

“I can attest personally to the effectiveness of the program for athletes,” he says. “Before doing OsteoStrong, I would get knee pain when I ran more than two miles; any running would make my ankle hurt. Now that I’ve been doing OsteoStrong, all the ankle pain is gone and I can run farther before my knees start bothering me. This is a strengthening process that I am continuing.”

The potential benefits of the skeletal strengthening program are extensive, notes Mr. Kumbar—well beyond the treatment of osteoporosis and osteopenia. “It’s exciting to see the benefits OsteoStrong gives to athletes—helping them break through performance plateaus while reducing the chance of injury—because they’ve got stronger, healthier bones and joints. If they’re training for a competition, osteogenic loading will help them unleash their body’s full potential. It puts all users on the path to attain their ideal 30-year-old body.

“That said, the highest priority of the OsteoStrong program are bone density diseases,” he says. “There are probably 60,000 or more people in the Triangle area with osteoporosis. We want to find and serve everyone and reach all those who can really benefit from this healing activity, so they can reclaim their confidence and mobility, with sharply reduced concern about the prospect of bone breaks or fractures.”