Archives for posts with tag: flexibility

Work-Life-Balance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance or postural control, is the ability to maintain the body in either static or dynamic equilibrium with the center of gravity over the base of support (Magee 2007). Sounds so simple doesn’t it – but the fact is that lack of balance in humans can be costly and deadly. It is estimated that by 2020 the national cost of falls related injuries will reach 43.8 billion dollars (Donatelli 2010).

For myself I recently discovered just how ‘un-balanced’ my own body actually is, esp. after a number of injuries which all occurred on the right side of my body – each injury by itself was not the cause – but rather the combination of 5 injuries took its toll. Further the risk of having balance problems increases as we get older. I even found myself beginning to have small changes in my thinking that my own imbalance was just a product of those injuries and age – and what I realized was what a ‘negative’ mind set this type of thinking could become in my life.

I also began to understand why so many older adults start to become terrified of falling and losing the ability to move and function. Keeping active and mobile is key to our functioning both physically and mentally – without balance we cannot function normally, just ask anyone who has ever had episodes of vertigo.

Balance also extends to other aspects of our lives – our mental outlook and quality of life, our nutrition, our spirit. Keeping balance in our life of work, recreation, relaxation and mental stimulation is essential. I recently heard a neurologists from Harvard speaking on a radio program about neurological issues of the aging process. He was asked ‘if there is any one activity that we as aging humans could do to keep our brain healthy, active and functioning – what would you recommend? His answer – ‘exercise and staying active’. So simple and so profound.

The good news is it’s never too late. Check your own balance; here are a couple of simple tests.

1) Stand with one foot placed directly in front of the other foot and stay in that position for 10 seconds, then change feet.

2) Stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then change feet.

One should be able to perform these simple test quite easily and at will – and perhaps many can. However if you notice that even during these simple test that you have a bit of a challenge maintaining balance and being still then perhaps its time to begin adding balance training components into your regular routine. Even if you had no issues with these simple tests I would still recommend adding balance training components into your daily activity. Easily performing Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are a key measuring tool in determining how independent we are as individuals as we age.

Even in Joseph H. Pilates description of ideal health that he wrote about in 1945 he stated.  ‘Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.’

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Stretch3

 

What really is flexibility? – Well to put it succinctly – flexibility is a measure of the range of motion around a joint or series of joints. Flexibility is usually most limited by the joint’s physical structure which includes the bone, connective tissue and muscle. And what’s most important is that both men and women can improve flexibility with training.

It is truly important for all of us and especially those of us in our ‘prime’ to make flexibility training a regular part of our workout routine – or as I like to say our ‘Living Well’ commitment.
Did you know that there is scientific evidence that the incidence of injury actually decreases when we include flexibility training in our regular daily routines? The reason for this is that flexibility training gives us an enhanced ability to move better through a wider ROM – or range of motion.
The last thing that any of us wants to do is lose our mobility as we age, and the simple fact of the matter is that flexibility decreases as we age. Being flexible and mobile increases and enhances our lives as we age and helps ensure our independence. In addition – flexibility reduces our chances of experiencing occasional and chronic back pain.
Increased flexibility can increase and improve our performance of everyday activities as well as our performance in exercise and sport. It can also reduce our risk of injury during exercise or our daily activities because muscles are more pliable and supple. Further – flexibility training helps balance the musculature of our body and improves our posture!
Keep in mind a few things:
• Stretching should be included after every workout to improve and maintain overall flexibility.
• Stretching should never be painful – remember it is best to bring your muscle to a point of tension and above all-  breathe through your stretching.
•Don’t cut your stretching short – doing so is just cutting yourself short. Stretch for at least 5 – 10 minutes, preferably longer than shorter. This is esp. true for all of you ‘prime’ time stretchers out there.
•And for optimal results give ‘dynamic stretching’ a try – this involves using increasingly dynamic moves through the full ROM of a joint.

Activities such as Pilates are great to incorporate into your daily stretching and strengthening routine – remember Joe Pilates used to say that ‘a man is as old as his spine is flexible!’.
If you need some further advice don’t hesitate to contact me.