Number 4 in our 5 part Fitness Fundamentals series is MOVEMENT, which is all about how and why we need to achieve and maintain normal range and function.
Brace yourself, the bad news first…
Normal Movement declines parallel to activity. Wow, who knew! However, just to spice up the negativity, even if you are active, certain types of activity will limit your range of movement (ROM) over time and increase the risk of injury, thereby presenting a barrier to your activity and fitness. There is a direct correlation to loss of movement and shortening of life. Time and inactivity reduce muscle mass, cardio-vascular performance and mobility by between 3-5% each decade from our 20s onwards, this picks up at an alarming pace over the age of 60.
Now for the good news. Performing regular movement-based activity with the aim of retaining normal ROM will maintain or restore any lost range. But like all our fundamentals, you have to work at it! It’s not going to magically re-appear. You have to do specific exercises regularly to enable normal range and without these specific exercise routines, muscles shorten, tighten and stiffen over time, with or without muscular-based activity.
Mechanics – Check under the hood
Nobody is perfect when it comes to mechanics and movement, not even that really annoying person who does yoga all the time, looks great and can perform on cue party tricks involving unnatural forms of flexibility.
Our biomechanics (how the positions of our joints align and move) has a huge effect on the incidence of injury and the reduction in ROM over time. Correcting this is also a major priority, ideally at as young an age as possible, gives us a greater chance of long-term movement prosperity.
Take a look from the bottom up. Stand barefoot in front of a mirror and look at the following:
· Your feet (are they flat or do you have an arch)
· Your knees when you perform squats. Do your knees stay in line with your feet or roll-in?
· Can you touch your toes with your knees straight
· Can you flex to the side equally on both sides?
· Can you reach your arms straight overhead (in line with your back and legs) without your back arching or your knees bending? Turn sideways on to see this.
If you’re interested in finding our more, one of our physios can undertake a comprehensive movement analysis with you online. Simply book an online physio assessment HERE
What you need to know
Ageing and inactivity are the cause of much evil! Injuries compound the problem and every injury, causes a reaction, inflammation and very often a period of inactivity or rest. In most cases, without suitable rehabilitation of the injury and re-training, the range of movement is simply lost.
I know all about that – countless injuries, five surgeries with painful rehabs, not quite completed for the need to get back to reality, and as a result I am left with several areas of my body lacking previous normal ROM for neck, back, knee, wrist and shoulder. But, with effort each week (I wouldn’t describe it as hard work), I am able to retain a good level of movement, by regular stretching, self-help exercises & self-massage.
It is worth noting that women are generally more flexible and mobile than men and, although it is down to a number of complex factors, it is no secret that ladies live longer on average than chaps. Loss of movement and mobility plays a significant factor in this.
Sedentary lifestyles & working from home
It’s the middle of winter, and it’s cold outside. Exercising at home is challenging. You may not think that you have enough space but you don’t actually need much space or equipment to perform stretches or self-help exercises.
Our sedentary lifestyles are perfect reducers of ROM. We sit for hours, barely moving, at poorly set workstations. Exercise has diminished for the majority of us but it is never too later and you can make a difference.
Move it, Baby!
I may be sounding like a broken record here, but it all comes back to the simple truth, that you need to move and do so in a variety of ways, almost daily.
“I’m terribly inflexible”, “I can’t even get close to touching my toes”, “Stretch? I don’t need to do that!”. Any of those statements sound like you? Do you really need me to comment…? No, I didn’t think so.
No excuses people, you know what to do. Consider a short amount of time each day, say 30 minutes, before lunch or a break, and before you reach for a bite to eat, move your body first. We have stretch content from 10 minutes upwards to help break up the day.
Our online platform FitFor offers a comprehensive range of Movement content including Stretch, Yoga, Pilates and easy to follow self-help guides and exercises.
Fitfor also offers an essential range of equipment to help relieve tired and sore muscles, and restore normal movement and posture. Take a look here: