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Martial arts "could help elderly"

A new study has claimed that martial arts techniques could help people suffering from osteoporosis to land more safely if they fall.

Although it may not seem to be a very logical suggestion, researchers said that learning fighting disciplines such as kung fu, karate and judo could help the elderly to avoid bone fractures.

They conducted a feasibility study with the help of healthy volunteers to find out if martial arts fall training could benefit osteoporosis patients.

And they concluded that hip fractures could be prevented if vulnerable elderly patients were taught the techniques. The work was published in the online journal BMC Research Notes.

Dr Brenda Groen, from the Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences at Vrije University, Amsterdam, said: "We measured the hip impact forces during the martial arts fall exercises in a group of young adults.

"Based on our results, however, 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."

In the UK, nearly three million people are thought to suffer from osteoporosis, while around 230,000 fractures are caused by the disease every year.

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BMC Research Notes