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Strong Bone, Muscle & Balance
To Prevent Falls, Fractures

“Fundamentally,” says OsteoStrong franchise owner Alex Kumbar, “improving balance is one of our most important goals. That’s because strong bones and muscles improve balance—which helps prevent falls, which prevents bone fractures. And an osteogenic loading program is a powerful, efficient way to achieve that goal.”

Alex Kumbar and associate Penny Antone demonstrate a balancing exercise on the vibe plate. Simple exercises like these, explains Mr. Kumbar, complement OsteoStrong’s bone- and muscle-strengthening benefits.

Muscle quality and good posture, he explains, “are important elements of balance control—especially in the elderly—and are critically important for those who have osteoporosis. This silent disease, which literally means “por-ous bones,” correlates with muscle weakness and increased spinal curvature— which can lead to weak balance control, more falls, and bone fractures.”

Strength and Awareness

“Balance has two components: strength and awareness,” explains Mr. Kumbar. “Proprioception is the ability to sense body position. That awareness of where your body and limbs are in relation to your center of gravity is key to good balance. The sooner your body knows it’s off-balance, the easier it is for your body to get back in balance.

“The other essential component of good balance is strength—strong bones and muscles stabilize you. If you have weak joints or the muscles around your joints aren’t very strong, you’ll experience problems as you move through space. For example, let’s say you’re walking on uneven ground and take a misstep. Good proprioception tells you how to right yourself, but if muscles and joints fail, you won’t be able to ‘catch yourself’ mid-fall.

“The OsteoStrong program addresses all aspects of the ‘triple threat’ of porous bone, weak muscle, and poor balance,” says Mr. Kumbar. The exercises that trigger bone building also strengthen muscles, and stronger muscles and bone, in turn, improve balance. Our goal with all our clients is to see improvements in all three.”

Each OsteoStrong session begins and ends with a brief routine on a whole-body vibration machine. (see box, below) “This routine,” he explains, “serves to ‘wake up’ your nervous system, and helps your balance by increasing the effectiveness of balance practice done on the plate.
“All four pieces of osteogenic loading equipment are designed to strengthen bone and muscle—each targeting one area of the body. And one of them also addresses the awareness component, because it requires an exaggerated good posture to do it properly. Practicing good posture, reminds our body of how it feels to stand up straight and to balance from left to right.”

Small Muscles Play a Big Role

“OsteoStrong,” notes Mr. Kumbar, “improves muscular strength and endurance through a process called osteogenic loading. By pushing, pulling, or lifting against the OsteoStrong equipment, you stimulate your body to grow new, healthy bone tissue and new lean muscle.

“However, OsteoStrong differs from typical gym workouts, because it also strengthens the smaller, stabilizing muscles around your joints. The bicep curls on the gym machine will strengthen your biceps, but neglect the forearm muscles and small muscles around your elbow and shoulder—muscles you are forced to use when you’re doing a full-body movement like yoga. And those small muscles—which are usually found around the joints—play a key role in maintaining and regaining your balance.”

And, notes Mr. Kumbar, “while there are a number of ways to strengthen those smaller muscles, none is as efficient as the OsteoStrong program. We have found that osteogenic loading does a great job at triggering and strengthening those smaller muscles—as well as building bone and larger muscle strength—all in a matter of 15 minutes a week.” 

Good Vibrations

Whole-body vibration, explains Mr. Kumbar, is an important part of the OsteoStrong program, offering a number of benefits. “For example, there’s research showing that vibrating between 30 and 35 Hertz per second will elevate your level of a human growth hormone. This elevated level helps support your body in strengthening itself after physical stimulus.

“The other benefit is that your nervous system becomes fully energized when you vibrate at 30 Hertz per second,” he explains. “What that means is that your muscles are contracting and relaxing 30 times per second, sending lots of signals to your nervous system—and activating so many nerves keeps them working well.

Relax and Contract

Whole-body vibration platforms work by moving up and down very rapidly, thereby forcing your muscles to contract and maintain balance,” explains Mr. Kumbar. “During normal forms of exercise, muscles contract one or two times per second. Exercising while on a vibration plate causes your muscles to contract 30 to 50 times a second. And, unlike other forms of exercise, which work on only about 40 percent of muscle fibers, vibration plate training works on up to 90 percent of muscle fibers. This helps strengthen muscles and develop more muscle tissue. That, in turn leads to improved balance, coordination and posture, and increased bone density.”

“There’s a saying, ‘If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,’” says Mr. Kumbar. “OsteoStrong ensures that you’re using every muscle in the body, and that the small muscles and the nerves attached to them are working, keeping them stronger than they would be if you were doing nothing.”

An Efficient,
Effective Program

“There are many ways to develop good balance; many options for strengthening muscles; and exercise, diet, and supplements can all play a part in building bone,” notes Mr. Kumbar. “But most are slower and less effective than the OsteoStrong program. That’s because OsteoStrong is focused specifically on building bone and strengthening the muscles that ensure good balance—and designed to do the job in 15 minutes a week.”
In research in 2015, he says, “experts determined that the ideal range for working out was between seven and ten days, or once a week. They found that doing it more frequently didn’t produce additional benefits for bone density.”

Muscles need about 36 hours between heavy workouts of a specific muscle group to fully recover, explains Mr. Kumbar. “And when you trigger bone adaption, you only need to trigger it once a week. The body’s response seems to last up to six weeks, but after that first seven days it starts dropping off. Re-triggering every seven days is the best plan for re-building bone and muscles.

“However, balance exercises are another matter,” he notes. “The once-a-week OsteoStrong program certainly contributes to better balance, but every-day practice is likely most beneficial. Do balance exercises every day on your own—whenever you have a free minute. One example is to stand on one leg while brushing your teeth, or at the kitchen sink. If it’s simple enough, why not practice? That way you’re always improving your balance.”