Wolff’s Law And How Your Bones Grow

Wolff's Law And How Your Bones Grow | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Have you ever wondered how to keep your bones strong?

It’s a strange thing to think about – often we forget that our bones still change after we’ve become adults.

But even when you stop growing your bones “remodel” to become stronger.

This is called Wolff’s Law.

The opposite is also true, though.

Your bones may weaken if you’re not exercising them.

Wolff’s Law is related to how to keep your bones strong and help you recover after they’ve been injured or damaged like with osteopenia or osteoporosis.

If you’re hoping to rebuild your bone strength, it’s important to do so with the help of a Washington DC physical therapy clinic.

In particular, the orthopedic physical therapists here at Capitol Physical Therapy can help you recover from injury and rebuild your bone strength.

But for now, let’s talk more about Wolff’s Law and how you can apply it to your own health.

What Is Wolff’s Law?

Wolff’s Law is a part of bone theory.

It describes the ways bones usually respond to stress.

The law was named after a German surgeon who specialized in anatomy in the 19th century named Julius Wolff.

We think of bones as hard, solid objects that don’t really change once you’re done growing, unless they’re injured or you have a disease like osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.

But this isn’t true.

Your bones are constantly adapting and changing.

This process is called remodeling.

During remodeling, older bone tissue is replaced by new bone tissue.

Bone cells called osteoclasts absorb damaged and old bone tissue.

Then, a different cell called an osteoblast will leave new bone tissue in place of the old.

Wolff’s Law describes how bones respond to stress in your body.

When bones have more pressure on them, osteoblasts respond by making the bone stronger to meet these demands.

This can happen with things like:

  • Weight bearing activities
  • Weight shifting activities
  • Weight gain
  • Strength training
  • High intensity aerobic activities

On the other hand, with decreased stress, like spending too much time sitting or lying, or reducing muscle activity, your bones can weaken.

This happens because of Newton’s Third Law Of Physics.

In case your memory of science class is a little hazy, that means “for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

When you stand or walk, there are more forces acting on your body.

Therefore, your body’s structural system, the skeleton, has to be strong enough to withstand that force.

Your body is efficient, and likes to devote resources to areas that actually need them.

If you spend more time upright, you’re telling your body to maintain bone strength.

On the other hand, when you spend more time seated or lying down, you’re telling your body that bone strength isn’t as important.

Wolff’s Law And Osteoporosis

You may have heard of osteoporosis and the issues it can pose as it worsens.

Osteoporosis makes your bones less dense and more porous.

This makes them more fragile, and susceptible to fractures.

Often this happens because your body is losing bone mass more quickly than it can create new bone tissue.

Osteoporosis is a common disorder – the CDC says 18.8% of women over 50 and 4.2% of men over 50 have it in their femur, neck, or spine.

Wolff’s Law emphasizes the importance of strength building exercises that allow your bones to get stronger over time.

Strength training improves bone strength because muscles anchor to and move bone. In other words, when muscles activate, they apply a force on the bone that the bone then has to match. Fortunately for us, strengthening muscles also strengthens the bones those muscles attach to without any extra work.

This can help counter the effects of osteoporosis, keeping your body healthy and strong.

RELATED: Osteoporosis Physical Therapy Treatment In Washington DC

ways bones usually respond to stress | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Wolff’s Law And Healing From Broken Bones

Exercises that you may associate with building muscle are often good for strengthening your bone density.

Wolff’s Law can be helpful when it comes to healing from a broken bone or fracture.

If you’re controlling the “stress” your bones are under as you recover, you can build up their strength and contribute to their healing.

The best healing will come from controlling that stress through exercises that build up your bones.

How Does Wolff’s Law Relate To Physical Therapy?

Wolff’s Law can be useful as a guide to prevent injuries.

This is because of the focus on strengthening your bones.

Physical therapy is the process in which you maintain your strength and mobility by using gentle exercises.

It’s also useful to restore your strength after a health issue.

You may see a physical therapist after an injury, accident, or surgery, or when you’ve encountered a serious health concern to help you gradually build up your previous mobility and strength.

RELATED: DC Physical Therapy After A Car Accident
RELATED: Physical Therapy After Surgery

When it comes to bone issues and accidents, physical therapists will often use Wolff’s Law as a guiding principle to assist you in your recovery.

This may include weight bearing exercises, and your physical therapist will gradually increase the difficulty until you can fully support your injured area on your own again.

Does Wolff’s Law Always Apply?

Wolff’s Law is not universally applicable.

This is because it is not describing a singular process in your body, but many different interconnected processes that happen in your bones.

Bones can get stronger in other ways, not just by strengthening your muscles.

For example, changes in bone geometry can redistribute your bone mass or density.

The way your bones change and grow is not always predictable.

The strain your bones are under and the angle at which this strain occurs plays a big role.

That said, Wolff’s Law encourages you to strengthen and train your entire body, which has health effects that reach far beyond just your bones.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

Have you recently experienced an injury?

Are you at risk of osteoporosis and want to avoid developing it?

Or have you already been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis?

If so, we’re Capitol Physical Therapy, and we can help.

Don’t hesitate, book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005

- https://g.page/capitolptdc

9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

- https://goo.gl/maps/zjL4NnnuThRhrcS86

Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC