Bones for Life FAQ
Please note that I’m not medically trained, and the information in this FAQ is based solely upon my own research and experience. I’m sharing it to help you consider whether this is an aspect of your own health that might benefit from closer examination and/or discussion with a medical professional.
Bone health FAQ
What is bone density and why does it matter?
Bone density, also known as bone mineral density, refers to the measurement of mineral content, primarily calcium, in bone tissue. It’s the best indicator we currently have of bone strength and resistance to fractures (because bending bones until they snap to see how strong they are tends to be frowned upon!).
When we’re young, our body builds new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, so the density of those bones increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass around 30. After that, although we continue to build bone, it doesn’t keep pace with the breaking down of old bone tissue, so the density of our bones inevitably starts to decline.
If your bone mineral density is already lower than optimum when the downturn starts, this can become a major problem.
How is bone density tested?
The most commonly-used scan for testing bone density is the DXA (or DEXA) scan. This is a form of X-ray that tests our bones at key points and compares their density with that of young, healthy adults. Some decline is considered normal, but once the difference reaches a certain point it is classified as osteoporosis. (Results falling between the ‘normal’ range and osteoporosis are classified as osteopenia, which is not a medical condition in itself but can be a useful wake up call.)
What are the effects of osteoporosis?
The long-term effects of osteoporosis can include:
- Increased risk of fractures from even minor falls or accidents (my first indication of a potential problem was breaking both wrists in a fall at home in my mid 50s!)
- Loss of height and the stooped posture known as ‘dowager’s hump’, the result of individual vertebrae in the spine collapsing
- Extensive fractures and vertebral collapses can lead to chronic pain and discomfort
- All of which can have a dramatic impact on our mobility and independence in later life
Am I at risk of osteoporosis?
Risk factors fall into different categories, which I think of as ‘unavoidable’ and ‘wish I’d known’!
- Being born female
- Being white (or Asian)
- Being post menopause (and/or having an early menopause)
- Being slim/slight/low BMI
- Family history of osteoporosis and/or hip fracture
My personal ‘wish I’d known’ list includes:
- Actively avoiding sports as a teen and young adult
- 20+ years in desk-based jobs
- High levels of stress and lack of coping strategies
- Decades of not walking daily (until I got a dog age 41!)
- 18 months of inactivity due to ill health in my mid 40s
My situation might have been even worse had I smoked, drunk alcohol to excess or been prescribed drugs known to have potentially damaging effects on bone health. There are several questionnaires available online to help you assess your own risk factors. Here’s one of them https://www.sticksandstones.org.uk/test-yourself/
Bones for LifeⓇ FAQ
Why have I never heard of Bones for Life before?
Although it’s been around since the 1980s, Bones for Life (BfL) remains relatively unknown. This is especially the case in the UK, where the Feldenkrais Method (on which BfL is based) is also much less-known than in the US and mainland Europe.
In fact, when I began teaching BfL in 2023 I was one of just 40 people registered to do so across the UK and Ireland! With teacher training lasting two years, and the majority of graduates opting to incorporate BfL processes into existing yoga, Feldenkrais or other somatic classes, that situation sadly seems unlikely to change any time soon. Which is why I’m on a mission to spread the word!
Is Bones for Life aimed at any particular age group, or level of ability?
No, in fact I often say that it’s suitable for anyone with a skeleton! The gradual way in which the body and nervous system are introduced to ‘new’ (in fact, often positively ancient!) ways of moving. and the emphasis on respecting the personal pace, range and capacity of each individual, make it suitable for absolutely anyone. Rather than fighting the body to get results, BfL teaches us to trust in our own ‘movement intelligence’, our own observations and sensations. Practised consistently over time, this can help us let go of unhelpful patterns of movement, leading to more satisfying and efficient movements and self-management.
Is Bones for Life just for women?
Absolutely not! It’s true that more women than men are diagnosed with osteoporosis, but this is arguably for statistical reasons. Changes in female hormone levels around menopause accelerate declines in bone density, so on average men are about 10 years behind women of a similar age on the ‘bone loss curve’. Coupled with the longer average life expectancy of women, this means we tend to see more women than men with the characteristic stooped posture of advanced osteoporosis (the so-called ‘dowager’s hump’). However the number of fractures caused by fragile bones in men has increased in recent years and men are less likely to be tested for the condition than women. One of the BfL teachers I follow is a man (Brian Shircliff) and it would be great to see more men embrace the techniques and processes of Bones for Life.
What is Movement Intelligence?
Movement Intelligence (MI) is the umbrella name for the 5 programmes created by Ruthy Alon, of which BfL was the first. In this context, the concept of movement intelligence “recognises the ability of the human body to organise itself ‘organically’ – elegantly and in its entirety, with spontaneously co-ordinated harmony – for optimal efficiency, and pleasurable, sustainable living. Intrinsic to MI is the sense of effortlessness that stems from having and heeding well-calibrated sensory-motor feedback.” (Source: https://movementintelligence.co.uk/)
Does Bones for Life help with osteoporosis?
Bones for Life focuses on good postural alignment and explores a variety of ways to optimise transmission through the skeleton of the gravitational force that is essential for bone building. Since appropriate impact is essential for strengthening bone, this can serve as a basis for everything that we do, from daily activities to exercise and performance.
Can Bones for Life help with specific problems other than osteoporosis?
Bones for Life offers a holistic (whole system) approach to health. Every part of our body is interconnected, and an awareness of the mind/body connection is intrinsic to this programme. Because BfL focuses on improving skeletal alignment, many people find it naturally eases even long-standing problems which stem from poor alignment in vulnerable joints such as the neck, hips, knees and spine.
Does Bones for Life improve balance?
Another benefit of aligning the skeletal structure through Bones for Life is that it reduces the work that our muscles have to do. This can make it noticeably easier to recover equilibrium swiftly and smoothly and thus reduce the risk of falling – which is actually the single most effective way to avoid breaking a bone!
Does Bones for Life help with lifting weight?
Lifting weight is an obvious way to increase muscle strength and is often recommended for stimulating bone strength. In Bones for Life the back is encouraged to become stronger through a series of processes that gradually build up tolerance, making it both easier and safer to move on to lifting heavier weights if that is what you choose to do.
FAQ about this course
Does the online course cover the entire Bones for Life programme?
No. The Introduction course does what it says on the tin. It was designed to introduce you to the key principles and foundational processes of the Bones for Life (BfL) programme. Over 4 modules we explore about 20 different processes, out of a total of 90 in the full programme.
How long does the Introduction course take?
Introduction to Bones for Life contains over 6 hours of teaching content as well as a few orientation videos to help you find your way around. The content is split into 4 modules which are delivered weekly. So if you choose to do so, you could complete the whole course in 3-4 weeks.
Irrespective of how long it takes you to complete all 4 modules, you have access to the course for a full 12 months. This means there’s plenty of time to do it at your own pace, to work through it more than once or to revisit specific lessons to refresh your memory.
Will doing this course change my life?
That depends! From the very beginning of Introduction to Bones for Life you will be learning processes and techniques that you can start incorporating into your daily life. Do so consistently, and you will quickly start to notice a difference, even if you never learn anything beyond what’s in the Introduction course. But the mind and body thrive on novelty as well as repetition, so it’s always a good idea to keep learning if you can!
How often do I need to practise?
It’s entirely up to you, but my advice is to start building the processes that appeal to you most into your daily routine from the start. That way you’ll keep remembering that you signed up for the programme (I see you!) and coming back to it. When you sign up you receive a whole 12 months’ access, not because I expect you to take that long to complete it, but because it’s an invaluable resource when you want a refresher or a bit of extra motivation!
What happens when I’ve finished the online course?
Once you have completed the Introduction course, you are eligible to join further Bones for Life courses with me. These may be available online and/or live on Zoom (with replays available). Details of forthcoming courses can be found on my website, in the private Facebook group and by email.
And remember that you have access to the Introduction course for a full year, so you can continue to return to individual lessons, or repeat the whole course, as often as you like during that time.
To really anchor in your practice, and harness the power of your subconscious mind to support your body in achieving optimum bone health, join my Self Hypnosis for Stronger Bones session, a live group hypnotherapy session combined with an MP3 audio recording for you to download and listen to daily.
Do you offer in person or 1:1 Bones for Life tuition?
For most people, my online Bones for Life courses are the most time- and cost-efficient way to get a feel for Bones for Life and decide if it’s something they want to explore further. Those who wish to continue then have the opportunity to join a live class. These classes are delivered over Zoom (replays available), making them accessible to anyone who is interested, irrespective of location.
If you are interested in attending an in-person Bones for Life workshop or retreat, please join my mailing list and make sure you’re the first to hear about them!
I also work 1:1 with clients (over Zoom or in person in Petersfield, Hampshire). My current fee for 1:1 work (as at January 2024) is £100 per hour, with most sessions being 90 minutes. These sessions are tailored to your needs, whatever that looks like. They may focus entirely on Bones for Life or they may incorporate yoga nidra, meditation and/or hypnotherapy, to create the optimum holistic approach for your personal health and wellbeing.