What is the neck of femur (or femoral neck), where is the neck of the femur, what exercises will build bone density in your femoral neck, why should you care about the neck of the femur (I explain the type of bone in your body and what is susceptible to fracture), what is a femur neck fracture, why there is a high risk of femur neck fracture, what movements (and specifically Yoga positions) you should modify or stop to avoid a fracture at the neck of femur
Neck Pain and Osteoporosis • Neck of Femur
Many of my patients often confuse the neck of the femur with the neck pain that they erroneously associate when they have osteoporosis. These are two separate things. The neck pain you experience is not caused by your osteoporosis (other than the anxiety caused by a low Bone Mineral Density test score). I explain this in my blog dedicated to neck pain osteoporosis.
Below I discuss your femoral neck and how to build bone and reduce the risk of femur neck fracture.
Neck of Femur • How to Build Bone
Hi, I’m Margaret Martin at MelioGuide, and today, I’m here to talk about exercises you can do to help you build more bone density, more strength and bone quality in your femoral neck.
Where is the Neck of the Femur?
So, where is the neck of the femur (also know as the femoral neck)?
The femur is the leg bone, the thigh bone connecting the knee joint to the pelvis.
This whole bone is the femur, and as you can see in the image that we’ve provided for you, the part that connects the long shaft of the femur to the head of the femur.
Why You Should Care About the Neck of Femur
Why do we care about it?
There are certain parts of our body that has more soft bone, or trabecular bone.
Throughout our body, we have cortical bone — very hard bone — and we have the soft spongy bone.
The long shaft of our femur has lots of cortical bone. It’s the type of bone that you would give your dog to chew on. Usually, it’s a cross-section of the femur of a cow. Your dog will chew on it for weeks sometimes because it’s very strong cortical bone.
But, that bone in the neck of your femur— just like the bone in each vertebrae, in your ribs, in your skull— those bones have a very high percentage of trabecular bone — soft spongy bone.
They’re at a higher risk of being fractured if you’re doing things that require or put it above and beyond what the bone quality is able to withstand, or what the bone strength is able to withstand.
Let’s talk about building, and then the second thing we’re going to talk about is how to protect in exercises, specifically, your neck of your femur.
How to Build Bone in the Neck of Femur
A recent very small study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (1) looked specifically at whether closed kinetic chain or open kinetic chain exercises, and I’ll explain that to you in a moment, helped the neck of the femur.
They found that closed kinetic chain, that is, whenever I’m standing and my feet are in contact with the floor, that exercise is now a closed kinetic chain exercise.
A squat, a lunge, jumping, stepping, you have that foot contact to the ground. That is a closed kinetic chain.
In an open kinetic chain, you might have been given such an exercise in rehabilitation, or you’ll sometimes see it in the gym where there are pads to hook your feet under, and you’re asked to lift the weight. In that exercise, there’s no ground contact with the base of your feet.
That is an open kinetic chain exercise, versus a squat where your feet are in contact with the floor and you’re pressing up tall.
The Squat: Excellent for Bone Building in the Neck of Femur
Let’s just review the form of doing a proper squat.
Ideally, with time, and as you feel strong, and as your form is solidified, you want to eventually move to doing weighted squats.
Some of my clients who already have spinal fractures, they’ll put weights or a weighted belt on. There are clients, with healthier spines, will use the weights on their shoulders.
Either way, your gaze and your chest are kept up. Before you even begin your squat, you’re going to think about the space between your feet, and you’re going to spread that space all the while that you do the squat, and you’re going to spread the space between your knees.
If you just do that now, if you stood up as you’re listening to this blog, you’d go, “Wow, that really engages the legs so much more.”
So, my imaginary weights are here, I’m taking a breath in. I start to blow, tightening my pelvic floor to keep my pelvic floor safe.
As I’m coming down, I’m spreading the space between my feet, and my eyes are just above the horizon, and then I push up firmly into the Earth. That is a squat.
Exercises for the Neck of Femur
There are other great exercises, and you can find them on Exercise for Better Bones, for strengthening the neck of your femur.
Yoga Position to Avoid for the Neck of Femur
Part two, as promised, is how to protect your neck of femur now that you know you have low bone density.
For those of you who love practicing yoga, I highly recommend that you avoid doing the pigeon pose.
Instead, you can still do a lovely figure four.
You’ll see that stretch, also, in Exercise for Better Bones, but it’s the same type of rotation in a figure four, lying on the floor, that you would get, but without the loading of your body over an already susceptible neck of the femur.
You don’t want to put the neck of femur under all that torque, and then put the weight of your body on it.
So, exercise intelligently, keep safe.
Thank you for tuning in. I’m Margaret at MelioGuide.
Osteoporosis and Neck Pain
If you have osteoporosis and are experiencing neck pain you should know that the two are not directly related.
You might have neck pain because of the anxiety caused by your bone mineral density results but not the osteoporosis.
I provide several exercise stretches that will help you deal with your neck pain and I clarify the confusion about neck pain and osteoporosis in this video:
For more information on osteoporosis, visit my Osteoporosis Guidelines page.
Reference | Neck of Femur Study
(1) Thabet AAE, Alshehri MA, Helal OF, Refaat B. The impact of closed versus open kinetic chain exercises on osteoporotic femur neck and risk of fall in postmenopausal women. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017 Sep;29(9):1612-1616