You may have wondered why mobility and flexibility training is so crucial, and how this important pillar of fitness contributes to healthy aging.
I am sure we have all seen someone at a gym, a health club or even in a park or down the beach with their leg up on a bench or seen someone with their fingers interlocked and reaching their arms up towards the heavens all to improve their “flexibility”.
If you’re someone who wants to feel as mobile and as pain free as possible, and to be able to conduct any activities of daily living to the best of your ability, then stay tuned and read on…
It is common knowledge (and maybe a slight misconception) that a person’s joints naturally become stiffer as they age, but I am here to tell you that with a regular and varied Flexibility and Mobility routine you can minimise the effects and limitations of stiffness and help to maintain healthy joints.
According to the study on Flexibility Training and Functional Ability in Older Adults, they found that flexibility training (stretching) in mature adults is effective at increasing joint range of motion in various joints.
Stiffness and lack of flexibility as we age is as much more the fault of lack of physical exercise than simply an age related decline.
What is flexibility and mobility?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines flexibility as: “the degree to which a joint moves through a normal, pain-free range of motion (ROM).” In other words, the ability of a single muscle or muscle group to shorten and lengthen in order to move the limb in a joint.
The range of motion or ROM of a joint is collectively determined by the body’s muscle, connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) and structural anatomy of an individual’s bones.
Why Mobility and Flexibility Training is Crucial?
Having a good level of flexibility allows us to move our body more freely to conduct our activities of daily living in a confident and pain free manner. Let’s face it, feeling limber and being able to move well feels a lot better than being stiff and inflexible.
As we age, maintaining flexibility and mobility becomes increasingly crucial for our overall well-being. These two factors are the keys to preserving our independence, quality of life, and physical health.
Firstly, flexibility enables us to move freely and comfortably. It prevents stiffness and reduces the risk of injuries, such as muscle strains and joint pain.
Secondly, mobility ensures that we can perform daily activities and maintain our autonomy. Whether it’s getting out of bed, climbing stairs, playing with children/grandchildren, gardening, or participating in any chosen leisure activities such as tennis, golf or hiking.
How to improve your flexibility and mobility?
There are a number of ways to improve your overall level of flexibility and mobility. But the one key that is the most important is to be consistent.
- Passive stretching: Holding a limb in a certain position where the muscle fibres are stretching with the use of an object such as a chair or stretch strap for a period of 60-90 seconds. It is always important to warm up the body with some gentle Mobility Exercises
- Self-massage techniques: Using a foam roller or massage ball, pressure can be placed on the muscle belly to provide a release of tightness and tension.
- Flexibility and Mobility classes: Check out our Active & Ageless specialist flexibility & mobility class.
How often should I train to improve my flexibility and mobility?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),
flexibility and mobility routines should be conducted around 2-3 times per week.
So as to one of the Keys to Aging Gracefully: You now should have a good understanding as to why mobility and flexibility training is crucial.
Incorporating a flexibility, mobility and stretching routine into your active ageing workout is an important component to achieving your overall best level of health & fitness.
Heath Jones is the founder of Active & Ageless and has over 20 years’ experience in the Health & Wellness space.
He holds the following qualifications:
Bachelor of Nursing
Postgraduate in Exercise Science
Diploma of OHS
Cert 3 & 4 Fitness
Cert 4 Training & Assessment
Older Adults trainer