Black Hills Woman Magazine | Improving Bone Health

Improving Bone Health
by Lynn Taylor Rick

When it comes to bone health, Shelley Ebel has firsthand experience and a personal passion in maintaining it.

Years ago, at the age of just 38, Shelley learned that she already had bone loss, most likely due to fertility treatment drugs she had taken earlier in her life. To be specific, Shelley was diagnosed with osteopenia, or a bone density that is lower than “normal peak density” but not low enough to be called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the condition in which bones become brittle from loss of tissue. That brittle condition often leads to bone fractures, posture issues and declining mobility as people age. With the diagnosis of osteopenia, Shelley joined approximately 18 million Americans who have the condition.

Herb & Shelley
Herb & Shelley Ebel

The news was unsettling for both Shelley and her husband Herb, who understood that osteoporosis could greatly diminish the quality of Shelley’s life as she ages. So when the couple learned of a new approach to reversing bone loss – a “loading system” called OsteoStrong – they jumped at the chance to get involved. In August, the couple opened OsteoStrong in Rapid City and purchased the franchise rights to the business in five other states as well.

To understand how OsteoStrong works, it’s helpful to understand how bones work. Throughout childhood and early adulthood, bones are in a constant state of breakdown and renewal. Cells called osteoclasts break down the old bone and cells called osteoblasts rebuild. As humans age, however, the osteoblasts slow down drastically while osteoclasts continue their work. The result is weakened bones and osteoporosis. Women especially face bone loss after menopause due to the change in hormones that affect the body’s ability to rebuild bone. It’s a worldwide health issue – every three seconds, an osteoporotic fracture occurs, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. One in two women will suffer a fracture after the age of 50.

To combat the condition, medical providers have long prescribed increased calcium intake, weight bearing exercise and medications. Herb says unfortunately, the drugs often come with nasty side effects. The benefits of exercise for bone regeneration have shown to be limited, according to research about a decade ago that showed the traditional exercise had a “minuscule” effect. Herb said a 1999 study found instead that in order for people to build bone faster than their body is losing it requires “resistance of at least 4.2 times their body weight.”

And that’s where OsteoStrong comes in.

OsteoStrong is a “loading system” which utilizes equipment designed in 2011 by Dr. John Jaquish, the founder of OsteoStrong. The equipment triggers the body to rebuild bone using “slight bone flexing” with 4.2 times body weight resistance. Herb said traditional gym equipment isn’t designed to provide the needed movement or resistance.

OsteoStrong requires just 10 minutes once a week of “osteogenic loading,” Herb said. There are four positions that load the chest, leg/hips, core and spine. The positions and resistance trigger an “adaptive flexing response in bones” that prompts a person’s body to grow new bone, Herb said. A 2013 study of the OsteoStrong approach showed a bone density improvement of 7.34 percent after just one year, he said.

Shelley says OsteoStrong not only improves bone density, but improves balance as well. OsteoStrong utilizes a whole body vibration technique, which involves a person standing on a platform that provides a steady vibration. The movement causes the muscles to contract and relax many times per second. Mayo Clinic reports that research has shown that done correctly, whole body vibration can reduce back pain, improve balance and reduce bone loss.

The Ebels are passionate about bringing OsteoStrong to the Black Hills community, and excited for people to learn more and become healthier. “What we’re doing is revolutionary,” Herb said. “And we’re all so passionate about it.”

To learn more, visit or call 605-389-3684

OsteoStrong Rapid City

Ellis Wellness

Rapid City Medical Center MonaLisa Touch

Alternative Health Care

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