Flexibility and Mobility for Healthy Aging

 

Do you wake up feeling stiff every morning?

Does it take an hour or two after waking up for that feeling to go away?

Or does that feeling linger all day?

One of the most common questions we get asked is if this is a natural part of aging. Our clients wonder if this is just inevitable or if there is something that can be done to prevent this. 

We're here to tell you this DOES NOT have to be a natural part of aging, and that yes, there is plenty you can to avoid waking up with that feeling every morning! 

Let's Talk About Flexibility...

Flexibility, also known as range of motion, can be improved and maintained at any age. Our tissues get stiff because we stop using them, not just because of old age

We need to take a closer look though because only working on flexibility is not a great solution either. It's vital to keep a good range of motion of all of our joints as we age, but to function at our best we must also have the strength to control our flexibility. Otherwise, the result is over-stretched and unhappy ligaments. 

There is a fine balance between keeping the motion of the joints and the strength of the muscles in balance. Too much flexibility forces reliance on ligaments instead of muscle strength, leading to unstable joints.

Why Does Any of This Matter?

Beyond avoiding feeling stiff and immobile when you wake up, flexibility brings a lot of benefits for your overall health!

Have you ever seen a child play in a deep squat position for a prolonged amount of time and found yourself wondering how this is possible? It takes not only a lot of muscle strength and balance to hold that squat, but also A LOT of flexibility throughout the legs and trunk to get there in the first place.

Believe it or not, we all had the capability of doing this at one point in our lives but we lose it as our movement patterns become more narrow as we age (usually due to how the world around us is set up).

The great news is that it is possible to get back to deep squatting as an adult, and in the future we will talk about why this should matter to you!

Flexibility allows you to use a wide variety of movement patterns. With flexibility, the “use it or lose it” principle applies. Your tissues do not inherently stiffen just because you age, but in response to the ways you move throughout the day. We become shaped by how we move (or don't move). 

If you spend all day sitting in a chair, your tissues just tighten in that position. Over time this makes it increasingly more difficult to do things that came naturally to you when you were younger, like getting on and off the floor with ease

When you start to lose flexibility, your strength and balance take a hit. If joint stiffness doesn't allow your joints to move through a full range of motion, you deny yourself an opportunity to gain strength! Tight muscles and joints also cause you to easily lose your balance. You become not only more likely to fall but also more likely to get injured in a fall.

Here at ABC, we coach our clients through experiencing a greater variety of movement in order to improve their quality of life. The first step of this is often improving flexibility! Even 10 minutes per day can make a massive difference, so what are you waiting for? Get started today, or better yet get up and stretch your hamstrings right now :)

Want to learn more about mindful movement? Sign up for our email newsletters and receive our Balance, Falls, and Brain Health course FREE today.

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