Improving Flexibility and Core Strength
If you have spent any time at all in the gym or doing other fitness based activities, then you will have heard over and over again how important it is to develop core strength and flexibility. The reason for this is quite simple, developing and maintaining flexibility and core strength is integral to living a healthy and active lifestyle. It is an essential component of protecting our bodies from injury when participating in any physically challenging activities such as sports, manual labour or even more simple tasks such as gardening! Not only that, but having good core strength and flexibility will help keep us mobile and independent into our golden years.
Core Strength and core muscles are being used at almost every moment in our awake state, from twisting, lifting, throwing, bending, balancing, walking to even just standing or sitting up straight. Working on maintaining core strength can improve and prevent back pain as well as improve posture. Often when people think about core strength, the first thing that comes to mind is having a six pack or ripped abs, our backs often get neglected in these thoughts. The core makes up our entire torso area, and real core strength comes when their is a balance between front and back muscles. In fact, an unbalance between the front and the back of the core can actually set you up for injury, so it is essential to work on and strengthen both equally.
Flexibility is important throughout our whole body. Not only does it help our joints work through their full range of movement and enable us to move about with more ease and comfort, but flexibility also enables our muscles to work at their peak performance. This helps protect us from injury when participating in sports or any general physical activity. Often when people think of flexibility the first thing that comes to mind is whether or not they can touch their toes, but flexibility is much more than just loosening your hamstrings. Keeping the muscles, ligaments and tendons throughout your whole body flexible, including your hips, spine and shoulders, is an important part of maintaining overall health and fitness.
Fortunately there are many different classes and programs that focus on both flexibility and core strength. These are available in gyms, fitness centres as well as on DVD or online so that you can practice in the comfort of your own home. Practices such as yoga, Pilates and core based exercises and stretches can also help a person recover and regain strength or movement after an injury.
Yoga Asana is an ancient practice that works on increasing strength and flexibility throughout your whole body, as well as stimulating all the different internal systems of the body, such as circulation, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, digestive and nervous systems. Through regular practice of Yoga Asana, you are able to improve your overall health by increasing your strength, flexibility and general body awareness.
Different yoga practices work on different parts of the body; some work more on strengthening, some on increasing flexibility and others are a combination of both. This enables you to target specific areas that need to be improved upon. Yoga is specifically useful for recovering from injury as all the practices work to improve circulation and movement. Most yoga practices also havemodifications available to make them suitable for the individual practitioner’s needs.
Pilates uses a combination of exercises that are done with precision and control in order to develop strength and increase flexibility. It is often practiced with the aid of equipment such as resistance bands, double handed ring and soft balls. Pilates uses safe practices that, like yoga, are able to be adapted to suit different levels of strength and flexibility, meaning there is always room to be challenged and improve.
Exercises From Home
Yoga and Pilates can both be practiced from the comfort of your own home and there are also many other exercises that can be used to help improve your core strength, increase flexibility and recover from injury. With equipment as simple as an exercise mat, gym ball or resistance bands, you are able to practice all the exercises you will need to enhance your core strength and develop flexibility throughout your entire body.
Working out from home (as opposed to in a class) also gives you the added benefit of focusing specifically on your own personal needs and weaknesses. This allows you to improve your flexibility and increase your core strength at a pace that is appropriate for you.
Why not join in with the Improving Flexibility conversation in our 66fit LinkedIn group? You can also find us on Facebook as 66fit Australia, 66fit UK and 66fit Deutschland along with Twitter and G+. Come and meet us in person at the NEC Birmingham for either Leisure Industry Week (LIW), 22nd and 23rd September 2015, Stand No: Hall 4/C29 or the Occupational Therapy Show on the 25th and 26th November 2015.