Wolff's Law

Original Editor - Riya Naval

Top Contributors - Riya Naval  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Julius Wolff a German surgeon and anatomist developed this law. She recognized that our bones are constantly changes. On application of stress, the bones remodel themselves to adapt to the stresses. A famous saying "use it or lose it" can be used to describe how the bone grows and changes over time depending on the stresses or forces placed on it.[1]

Definition[edit | edit source]

It states that bones will adapt to the degree of mechanical loading, such that an increase in loading will cause the architecture of the internal, spongy bone to strengthen, followed by strengthening of the cortical layer . Furthermore, a decrease in stress in stress on the bone will cause these bone layers to weaken. The duration, magnitude and rate of forces applied to the bone dictate how the integrity of the bone is altered.[2]

Pathogenesis[edit | edit source]

Remodeling of bone in response to load occurs via sophisticated mechanotransduction mechanism. in this the mechanical signals are converted via cellular signaling to biochemical responses which includes mechanocoupling, biochemical coupling, signal transmission and cell response.[3]

Wolff's Law and it's importance in Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

It is important to consider Wolff’s law when it comes to recovery post injury and/or injury prevention and exercise that is required to maintain good bone health.

Controlled stress to our bones, in the form of exercise is crucial when it comes to bone healing and strengthening.  This is especially important in the prevention and management of conditions such as osteoporosis, prevent falls, improve balance and coordination and following a fracture.

After 25, bone loss occurs naturally. Women lose upto 50% of bone mass by the age of 80 and men lose around 18% this makes women more susceptible to osteoporosis, exercise helps slowing it down.

in case of fracture, controlled stresses on the bones will lead to best healing and strengthening.

An effective exercise program for bone health includes 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity, four or more days a week and strength training exercises for each major muscle group at least twice a week.

Examples of weightbearing exercise include:

  • Brisk walking and hiking
  • Jogging/running
  • Dancing
  • Jumping rope
  • Hopscotch
  • Tennis, badminton, ping pong, and pickleball
  • Team sports, such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball
  • Stair climbing

Higher impact activities, such as jogging and jumping rope, increase the weight on bones and provide more bone-strengthening benefits. [4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Geelong Hand Therapy: ““Use it or Lose it” - Wolff’s law.”
  2. Physiology, Bone Remodeling-National Library of Medicine
  3. Mechanotransduction and the functional response of bone to mechanical strain
  4. OrthoInfo: “Exercise and Bone Health.”