Osteoporosis in Women: Bone Strengthening Guidelines | Dr. John Jaquish
Aging comes subtly. Sometimes, the changes might feel like joint stiffness in your hip or shoulder, or sometimes the signs are stooping posture, increasing belly fat and loss of muscle mass… those changes are easy to see and feel. Yet other changes are completely hidden.
I hear over and over again from my friends and listeners that after their annual bone-density scan, they’ve been diagnosed with thinning bones. It’s expected that by 2020, half of all American men and women over the age of 50 will have, or will be at risk of developing osteoporosis of the hip… and even more will be at risk of developing it elsewhere.
What if I told you that you can increase your bone density and actually reverse bone loss with a technique that requires only 10 minutes a week. Are you listening now? It seems unbelievable!
Make sure you listen to this show all the way to the end, because today’s guest Dr. John Jaquish has developed a device that’s placed in over 300 clinics worldwide. These clinics, called Osteostrong, focus on osteogenic loading (which basically means putting strain on the bone that applies enough impact or pressure to stimulate new bone growth). It has now helped over 30,000 individuals with their bone health.
We have a lot to cover and we’re lucky to have Dr. Jaquish here to help us. He is an inventor, author, and scientist, and stumbled upon his life’s mission to promote bone health after his mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis. He is currently advancing osteogenic loading research and speaking worldwide, as well as developing other biotechnology devices and products that will aid in the advanced health and wellbeing of people all around the world.
Kathy Smith: John, welcome to the show.
John Jaquish: Kathy, thanks so much for having me.
Kathy Smith: Okay. Well, let’s jump in. I think that there’s not a woman that’s perimenopausal, menopausal, over the age of 45– actually, what’s crazy is that age is lower and lower now. Late 40s, women are calling up and saying, “I’m getting the osteoporosis diagnosis.”
John Jaquish: Listen to this, Kathy. I had a meeting at West Point with the U.S. Army. They’re seeing it in high school graduates.
Kathy Smith: Oh, my gosh. Crazy. Tell me. I stumbled across OsteoStrong because a friend of mine started going to a clinic in L.A., and just six months after her 10-minute a week treatments, she went back for a DEXA scan and she had dramatically improved here bone density. Now, her doctors were blown away.
Let’s just talk. What is OsteoStrong and what the heck’s going on that’s causing these strong bones?
John Jaquish: I call it impact emulation. The body of clinical literature out there that shows that high-impact or impact-level forces through the axis – meaning the long way of a bone – triggers bone growth. And in 2012, the minimum dose response – the minimum amount of load to trigger bone growth of the hip – was determined with some accelerometer blood test sort of biomarker testing, which showed that you need 4.2 multiples of your own body weight to trigger any bone growth at all.
The idea of going for a walk is good for your bone health – going for a walk is good for lots of reasons. But bone health is not one of them. So I had realized doing the research process to treat my mother’s osteoporosis– I developed this whole thing to treat my mother’s osteoporosis– that I needed to get the benefits of high impact without the risks. Because 4.2 multiples of body weight don’t come from weight lifting. It comes from impact-level forces.
So gymnasts absorb 10 times their body weight through their lower extremities, and coincidentally, they have the highest bone density, absolutely superhuman bone density. They also have incredible risks of injury. So how do we get the benefit without the risk of injury?
That’s really what these medical devices do. They give you the benefit of high impact without the risks.
Kathy Smith: It’s interesting, because I had a NASA scientist on the show, and she was talking about her research with bone density. I think at that point, she said to get that g-force that you had to jump off a box. If I’m not mistaken, it was like a 16-inch box or something to the floor. To the point, I thought, “That’s cool.” Then I realized that as I was saying this to an audience of women, I’m looking and going, “I don’t think most of these women would be safe to jump off a 16-inch box.”
John Jaquish: That’s right. Not safe.
Kathy Smith: Yeah. Without the risk. So I have gone on and I’ve heard it described to me. It seems a little out of a futuristic movie, how OsteoStrong works. I’d love for you to describe and I want to try to create a visual for our audience. But the one thing I will have to say is that it’s not what I thought. It’s not any of this jumping, bouncing, or whatever. It’s almost the opposite. Can you describe it to us?
John Jaquish: No. I call it a yoga-like experience, where you’re concentrating on creating tension in the positions you would naturally absorb high-impact forces. By the slow-loading and computerized biofeedback, so the individuals who are looking at a computer screen, they are putting forces through their bone mass that are the same or even higher than they would absorb in high-impact forces. But they’re regulated by a physiological process called neural inhibition. What that means is when you’re uncomfortable, muscles start to shut off.
Now, in impact, which is an out-of-control event, neural inhibition doesn’t come into play. But when a movement is slow and controlled – and the robotics and computer system of OsteoStrong keep you in that mode of slow and controlled loading – when you’re moving at the proper speed of creating tension– when I say speed, you’re not actually moving very much. You might only be moving a millimeter or two. But in that millimeter or two and that slow loading, you get to see forces that you’d be shocked you can put through your musculoskeletal system. It is those forces that are triggering growth.
Kathy Smith: Okay. I understand that you’re put into the robotic device, and there are these four positions. Again, one of them looks similar to a bit of what you’re doing a pushup, but you’re in a seated position. From what I can understand of it, it’s almost like an isometric contraction. Like you’re pushing against something, but it’s really not moving. Is that correct? Kind of.
John Jaquish: Yeah. We don’t use the word isometric, because that means no movement. And we actually have quite a bit of movement from a bone-compression standpoint. Also, isometric research, especially in the 1960s was kind of not applied well. There’s a lot of isometric studies that ignored joint angle. Which my research would show that joint angle is critically important, whereas there are studies out there that don’t even describe joint angle.
As in like you can be in a position where you’re in a squat and your legs are parallel to the ground or you can have a 120-degree angle behind the knee, so it treats that like it’s all the same. It’s absolutely different. I see that research and understanding of isometrics is scientifically worthless.
Kathy Smith: Getting back to the machine, then. You’re in this machine and you’re pushing against something and–
John Jaquish: Or pulling.
Kathy Smith: Or pulling. And that’s stressing the ligaments, the tendons, and compressing the bones or putting pressure on the bones?
John Jaquish: That’s right.
Kathy Smith: That then stimulates the bone growth along with– I’m assuming that throughout this process, are we also suggesting that people are taking more calcium or D or K2. Is there also something about what you put in the body?
John Jaquish: I get asked that question every day. Ultimately, it’s unfortunate that people are very confused on the nutrition subject. Calcium, vitamin D, magnesium are all critical to absorbing calcium in the bone and assimilating that into the bone matrix.
Here’s the problem. Those are building blocks. So think about a weight lifter who takes extra protein in their diet and then they lift weights. Let’s say they decided to quit lifting weights but take the extra protein. What would happen?
Kathy Smith: Nothing.
John Jaquish: Nothing would happen. So taking extra calcium and vitamin D and magnesium is shown to do a little better than nothing. It might slow down the loss, which is what’s been seen in the literature. But it does not have a growth effect, because the body determines bone building, osteoblastic activity based on compressive forces. That’s it. Without the compressive forces, it doesn’t matter what kind of nutrients you’re taking. Your body has no reason to absorb them.
Kathy Smith: Right. Muscle, bone, they work hand in hand. So you’re not going to build muscle mass no matter what you eat without stressing it. And the same is true with bones.
John Jaquish: It’s interesting. I can speak to a group of people and as soon as I give them that weight lifter mentality, they understand the protein and you lift weights and then your body decides to build muscle. They kind of look and say, “Wow. That’s really silly that we’re all taking calcium and not doing the type of activity that builds bone.” Yes, I completely agree.
Kathy Smith: That’s really crazy when you think about it. Yeah. It really is. So what if you don’t live near an OsteoStrong location? What can we do at home? What can we do on our own to help rebuild bone or maintain bone density?
He pauses. He pauses. There’s a long pause. That’s not good.
John Jaquish: I would say you need to talk to your doctor about sponsoring an OsteoStrong location. If there was a safe way to do this at home, I would have written a book about that. But the book I wrote was about creating impact-level forces and how a fixture or a device is really required for that. There’s really no good way to do it.
Now, I do have some colleagues who go and lecture about high-impact activity. And jumping from a box that is 16 inches above the floor. So it’s like standing on a chair and jumping off of it and landing. That will have that intended effect; however, how safe is that?
Kathy Smith: Well, if you’re athletic, it would be okay. But if you’re not athletic, I wouldn’t suggest it.
John Jaquish: In the research that we’ve seen, we know peak bone mass is typically reached at 30 years of age. Coincidentally, your ability to absorb that level of force leaves you at around 30 years of age. Now, if you maintain an athletic lifestyle, that may leave you at 40 years of age instead of 30. But at some point, you lack the biomechanics, the flexibility in tendons and ligaments to properly do that.
Kathy Smith: So what would you suggest that somebody do then? I know that there are other things out there. I know that you’ve developed an app. Do you want to talk about your app a little bit?
John Jaquish: What the app does is it shows you where you are. Like, what is your ability to build bone? It’s called Fractureproof. It’s only available on iPhone, because other manufacturers of smartphones use very poor-quality accelerometers, and they provide very inaccurate data. So Apple’s the only company that uses a high enough quality accelerometer on the phone for the application to be used properly. So non-iPhone users, I’m sorry. But it’s the fault of the factory that built your phone not having anything to do with the app production.
So the app is called Fractureproof. You put in your body weight. You hold the phone against your hip joint, and you jump and land. And it tells you how many multiples of body weight you are able to create. If you are able to create more than 4.2 multiples of body weight, it will tell you you’re able to build bone on your own. If you’re not, then you’re not.
Kathy Smith: Okay. If you’re not able to, we can’t jump to create enough force, let’s Segway into strength training. If you start strength training, can that put enough force and pressure on the bone to create some bone growth?
John Jaquish: No.
Kathy Smith: You’re not bringing any good news today. I’m teasing you. You’re fine.
John Jaquish: I’m not here to give people the answer they want to hear. I’m hear to give the right answer. It’s very funny. Social media is interesting because I participated in some of the National Osteoporosis Foundation forums on Facebook for example. The anger that is aimed towards me when I just post a link to a scientific study. It’s not my opinion. For example, vegan nutrition is very damaging to bone. Those who choose a vegan lifestyle are going to have – according to the research – are going to have some big problems with bone health in their future.
It’s not a matter of opinion. If somebody doesn’t like the answer, I’m sorry. But it’s nothing to do with something I did. This is what the research found. Wouldn’t you rather know that your nutrition program is not particularly healthy for you? Some people would rather not know.
Kathy Smith: Is there something that the vegans can do to supplement their eating plan besides eating a steak?
John Jaquish: No.
Kathy Smith: Okay.
John Jaquish: That’s the answer. There are antinutrients in almost any vegetable that are causing inflammatory processes to happen to the body, which stunt the resorption of calcium in bone mass. Therefore, there is really nothing they can do about it.
Now, there might be other ways. Veganism is no impact towards any animal, so some of them are exploring cricket protein where they basically just grind up crickets and turn that into some sort of protein powder. It’s interesting. I’m curious to see how the research goes and what the amino acid profile of that is. But ultimately, the less meat you eat, the more compromised your bone health is.
Kathy Smith: You use this term antinutrient in vegetables. I don’t want to spend too much time, but just so our listeners know, what are you talking about when you say that?
John Jaquish: Oxalates, different properties in vegetables. The way an animal keeps you from eating it is it runs away. The way a plant keeps you from eating it is it gives you a low-grade poison. Ultimately, when that is consumed, animals will have their fill and say, “I feel terrible,” and walk away.
We are less in tune with our biochemistry and how we feel than most other animals, which is why most other animals only eat like one or two things. We have an ability to turn a whole lot of things into something edible; whereas other animals just don’t do that. Maybe even though we can tolerate it, we shouldn’t necessarily do it.
It’s these oxalates. It’s a lot of the misunderstanding of fiber and cholesterols. Now that a lot of biases have been taken out of cholesterol research, now that the patents on statins have expired, we’re now seeing the opposite. So the higher your LDL cholesterol is the longer you live. We were always told the opposite. But now that they have tried to replicate these studies, they’re finding the opposite.
Here’s something that will blow your mind. If you eat nothing for 24 hours, you do a 24-hour fast, do you think your “bad cholesterol” goes up or down.
Kathy Smith: Intuitively, I would say it would down.
John Jaquish: Right. It goes up.
Kathy Smith: It’s crazy.
John Jaquish: Because you’re burning your own body fat. That’s your fuel. So by using your own body fat, your cholesterol goes up. So are we still sure that’s unhealthy? Because that doesn’t seem to make sense.
That would be like saying weight loss is bad for you. Well, we know that’s not true if somebody has excess adipose tissue. The two things that have the strongest correlation to long life are physical strength and low body fat. So we certainly can’t say by lowering your body fat, you’re creating a cardiac risk. The understanding of cholesterol was very inaccurate in medical history.
Kathy Smith: You mentioned physical strength. So let’s switch over to physical strength, because I’ve been reading so much about what you’ve written about and talked about regarding this strength curve, which most people don’t understand.
Explain the strength curve. And I also want to give you room here to go the direction you want to go, because I want to make sure– I know I have you for only a limited amount of time– I do want to make sure that we get into some of the newer things that you’re working on. But I do want to hit this strength curve and your product, the X3 Bar. So, can you tell us about the strength curve?
John Jaquish: We have just about seven times the capability in our stronger range than we do in our weaker range. What that means is, when you go to do a pushup, the hard part is when your nose is really close to the ground. The easy part is when your arms are almost fully extended. No one had really quantified the differences. We knew we were weaker and stronger in certain places of movements; hence, when you watch a sprinter sprint, they use seven degrees of flexion behind the knee even though 180 degrees are available. So if they have 180 degrees available, why don’t they use 180 degrees? It’s because the rest of that movement is highly inefficient.
What we’re looking at is– and once making this discovery and quantifying the differences from weak to strong range, I realized weight lifting is a waste of time. Because when somebody goes to lift weights, they select a weight based on what they can handle in their weakest range. What do we know about the weakest range? We have the highest opportunity for cumulative joint damage, especially with stronger people. The stronger you get, the more joint damage you’re likely building, and a lot of that is permanent.
The other thing we’re getting is the least amount of muscle tissue that’s firing in that, that’s involved in that experience. So when we go to fatigue, it’s the least amount of muscle we fatigue. There’s a lot of other tissue that’s in that muscle that doesn’t get fatigued at all.
So what if we could change the weight? What if when we got to our strongest position, we were holding drastically more weight than we hold in our weakest position? I saw that a physical therapist said when using latex banding for years– because they understand variable resistance – being able to load more in a stronger place and less in a weaker place – made more biomechanical sense. The reason this had never been applied to fitness is because if you got latex banding heavy enough, it’ll damage your wrists or maybe even break your wrists or ankles because that band, as you stretch it, it wants to be a circle. So there was never a good way to grab hold of it.
So after coming to this discovery, I think people would always look at band training and say, “That’s neat, but weights work just as well.”
I thought, ” If we get the band heavy enough and got a fixture to be able to handle strong enough banding, we would get better results. I saw it all on paper. I saw it all in the research, wrote a couple of papers about it. I didn’t publish them, just kind of kept it to myself. I built a prototype and within one year, I put on 30 pounds of muscle after turning 40, which never happens.
So I decided, “Okay. This is the world’s most effective strength training device.” Now, for the women who are listening, that’s not going to happen to you. But you will swap a lot of body fat for musculature, which is going to really change your posture. What women have really enjoyed with this product– it’s called X3Bar.com. What ends up happening is women build their hamstrings – the back of their legs. And the reason a lot of women have visibly uneven skin on the back of their legs has little to do with body fat. It has more to do with an underdeveloped muscle under there. Because there’s no real safe way to train that muscle until now.
Now that women are starting to grow their hamstrings, their butt in the back of their legs has become very hard, and that appearance of cellulite disappears.
Kathy Smith: That happened with me. It was a nice payoff for this type of training.
John Jaquish: I’m sure nobody told you about that.
Kathy Smith: Here’s the thing. I’ll have to say in the late 70s, I had the privilege– and I mentioned this to you before the show– of flying to DeLand, Florida and meeting up with Arthur Jones who was the creator of Nautilus, as you know. But for the listeners, the creator of Nautilus.
For women who don’t know Nautilus, it’s a machine. You don’t see the Nautilus machines around as much anymore. It was called Nautilus because it was based on a cam system that looked a bit like a Nautilus shell. Literally in the late ’70s, I first got exposed to this idea that we’ve been discussing right now and John’s been talking about, which is the strength curve that we lift weights to our weakest part of our muscle. With this Nautilus cam, I don’t honestly know if the machines are still around very much. But with the Nautilus cam, it adjusts the weight as you go through.
In your weakest point, it’s a little lighter. And when you get to your strongest point, it’s a little heavier. And the results were amazing. But also, it felt so much better on my joints. It was a great way to train. We all go to the gym, and I’m lifting 20-pound bicep curls – 20 pounds in each hand, and I go through the motion. That’s doable for me. But I will find at times when there are certain things I do that I really have to watch the pressure it’s putting on my joints, my ligaments, my tendons. That’s where I feel it.
John Jaquish: Right. Dr. Peter Attia, a brilliant guy, he frequently says, “The problem with fitness is we overload joints and underload muscle.” I’ve been saying that same thing for years. But he’s much cooler than I am, so I always quote him.
It’s so true with standard weight training. That’s exactly what happens. And after making the observations I’ve made, I just realized I actually need to create a product here and start saying what I know, which is weight lifting’s a waste of time. There’s an absolutely hands down better way to trigger the physique changes that we all want. It’s simple. It’s straight forward. It fits in a backpack or a drawer. It’s a short bar. It’s a 20-inch bar, a 20-inch wide plate that you stand on that the banding flexes underneath, because there’s a channel that runs through it, and heavy latex.
Kathy Smith: Yeah. I know. Again, I went on the site, the X3 Bar. You guys, check it out. It’s around $500. People sometimes look at a price tag like that. I always say, “Think about it. This is something you can use for your entire life.” So this investment pays off in a big way. It’s about keeping that constant tension on the muscle, the bands, how you hold things. That’s the thing that would always– I’d buy something and if it’s not comfortable for your wrists and if it doesn’t rotate or if it’s uncomfortable, you don’t use it. All of those things have been considered.
Focus a little bit more, John. Let’s finish the strength training part by saying, let’s talk about this constant tension. Because I don’t think– I say women, because that’s my audience– that women understand this idea of going to failure, but that you have the length of the muscle. So maybe pick a muscle in our body and explain you go to failure. You want to get it to the point where you can’t do anymore. But there are stages of that that you talk about. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
John Jaquish: You want to fatigue all ranges of motion. So the ratio of power, I had to be very strategic of how to design each exercise, and there are very detailed videos about how to do these movements. It takes about probably an hour to learn how to use it for every movement in the body, every muscle in the body. So squats, the back of the legs. It’s called the dead lift. Don’t worry. Nobody dies. It’s just traditionally the name of the exercise. All the movements of the body. The movement for the back of the arms. You learn all these things. It’s just an hour to go through the videos and really understand how to do them.
Then you’re able and proficient in how to do all these movements. But delivering the force so that first you fatigue the stronger range. Then you fatigue the middle range, and then you fatigue the weaker range. When you do it in that order, the level of muscular fatigue is much more profound and then the growth effect is much more profound.
Also, because of the self-stabilization factors with the added weight, there’s a lot of core activation. And core activation via reflex up-regulates– this is actually true of any stabilization muscle–but the rapid-fire activation up-regulates growth hormone. I wrote a meta-analysis on this in the summer of 2016. That’s available on my website, JohnJaquish.com. What was determined is as we do this, as we have a heavy load and we’re forced to stabilize a heavy load, we get a really high growth hormone effect. As adults, growth hormone doesn’t grow anything, but it does reduce body fat very quickly.
So people who go on the website who have lost incredible amounts of body fat, their nutrition was Twinkies and ice cream. They were eating responsibly, but they were put in a metabolic and hormonal situation where their body was helping them very quickly get rid of body fat.
Kathy Smith: With the X3 Bar, is that what you’re saying?
John Jaquish: Yeah.
Kathy Smith: And yes, I read some excerpts that you wrote about the study on stabilization, which I want to tell everybody out there I am a big proponent of stabilization exercises and incorporate them into my routine every single day. I love doing one-legged squats. Sometimes just mixing it up. Doing the bicep curls standing on one leg. Anything for stabilization. I didn’t realize that it’s triggering the release of this human growth hormone, which for everybody out there, if you went to pay for human growth hormone – which I’m not advising – but if you went on a human growth protocol, it costs thousands of dollars. I don’t even know about the safety and efficacy – but forgetting that – that we can do that in our bodies on our own by doing some of this type of exercise.
I really want to just put out there, I think this is the big anti-aging secret. When people ask me through the years, “How do you stay young and vital and active and energetic,” part of it is introducing this type of strength training we’re talking about but along with stabilization exercises, which John just mentioned
The last thing before I let you leave, you mentioned posture. We’ve talked about this already about posture. Was there another element about posture that you wanted to bring up?
John Jaquish: Some other musculature that women find very difficult to train is the trapezius muscle, which attaches to the back of your skull and it runs halfway down your back. The device does an incredible job of activating this muscle and growing this muscle, engaging it, and it pulls your shoulders back so that your posture dramatically improves.
Kathy Smith: And more so than rhomboid – those are the ones between your shoulder blades. Or I’m always thinking subscapularis which pulls your shoulder blades down.
John Jaquish: It does that too, but the trapezius is very pronounced very quickly. What I hear from a lot of women is they’ll write in and say, “I don’t know why, but all my shirts fit better.” They don’t think anything has changed in size, but everything just fits better. Ultimately, they’re not hunched over. Hunched over is relative. Even women who are over 30 begin to exaggerate their kyphosis. Their shoulders start to move forward slightly. This is 30 years old I’m talking about.
Once we’re able to engage those muscles and start to grow them a little bit and they start pulling the bones where they’re supposed to be, now your shoulders move back, your rib cage is less impinged so you get more oxygen with every breath. You’re more alert. You feel younger.
Kathy Smith: I’ll have to tell you. I was reading one of the transcripts from one of your podcasts this morning. I was reading at the Ritual Cafe where I go for my morning green tea, and I noticed that I was on my cell phone. It was where we all keep our cell phones, which is my head was down. In the transcript, you were saying, part of the thing is the neck position and everything that happens and all of this stuff. All of a sudden, I see my cell phone and I’m putting my cell phone up to eye level.
You’re right. Think about it. All day long, if you’re on your cell phones or reading papers, your neck, your shoulders, you’re driving, the computer, that’s the natural state that we’re in. And we have to do things that get us out of that. First of all, developing habits that you’re not always in that position. I don’t think about traps. The only thing I’m going to say, John, is is there a way to develop lower trap– I don’t like that big neck thing where it starts to go a little bit in that upper trap. Not so much even the look of it, but it starts to make my neck sore a little bit.
We’ll talk about that later. We don’t have to go into that now.
John Jaquish: I don’t think any female has ever used the product and felt that it made them not feminine looking.
Kathy Smith: Okay. Good to know.
John Jaquish: I think that’s ultimately where you’re going and where your listeners are. We talk about strength training and a lot of women are like, “I really don’t want to look masculine.” It’s never happened. And we have 20,000 users out there. Never happened.
Kathy Smith: Listen. My tag line, over and over again, I say, “Strong women stay young.” I want to go on record, I did my first strength training workout video in 1981 that we started doing strength training. So I’ve always believed, including after I met with Arthur and the Nautilus and everything that this is such an amazing way. I think it’s the number one way in staying young, because it allows you to do everything else you want in your life. Now, I just have to get into the bone density. I’m going to have to get into the OsteoStrong.
So I’m going to find one. I’m in Park City. There’s not one in Salt Lake. I’ve already checked. The nearest one is in Boulder. So I’m going to get on to somebody here. I know you’re lead investor or whatever is Tony Robbins, which is amazing. But hopefully, we’ll have an OsteoStrong in the neighborhood, but everybody out there should start looking for it and check out X3.
We’ll give them all the information on where to find you, John. I appreciate you taking your time. I know you’re a very busy man. I love the fact you’ve come on the show. You are the best.
John Jaquish: Thank you so much. Kathy, thanks so much for having me. It was great. All right.
Kathy Smith: Thanks.