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Can martial arts help to prevent hip fractures?

Martial arts training that teaches people how to break their fall might help older people avoid bone fractures, according to research.

The Dutch study says fall techniques that enable people to make a safe landing reduce hip impact forces and may be safe to perform for people with osteoporosis.

Author Dr Brenda Groen said: ‘We believe that fall training would be safe for persons with osteoporosis if they wear hip protectors during the training, perform fall exercises on a thick mattress and avoid forward fall exercises from a standing position.’

The study was carried out by Vrije University, Amsterdam, and published in the open access journal BMC Research Notes.

Osteoporosis is a well-established risk factor for falls-related hip fractures. Researchers observed healthy young adult volunteers performing fall strategies based on martial arts such as judo, which change the fall into a rolling movement, distributing forces over a larger impact site.

Hip impact forces and kinematic data were collected focusing on sideways and forward falls. The researchers said since martial arts techniques reduced hip impact forces and could be learned by older people, martial arts fall training may prevent hip fractures among people with osteoporosis. 

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