Moving & Mobility: Stretching

Outdoor exercises

Think back twenty, fifteen, even ten years. Were you stronger? Faster? Chances are, the answer is yes. But have you ever considered how your flexibility has changed? Can you still touch your toes? Maybe you’ve noticed your range of motion has decreased.

As we age, muscles, tendons, and ligaments begin to tighten and shorten. Unfortunately, this adds to the look of aging, as poor posture and restricted movement set in. It also adds to our risk of injury and decreases our ability to complete many tasks of daily living. After years of chasing children, juggling careers, sitting uncomfortably in front of computer screens, and relishing in any number of hobbies hunched over our workspaces, it’s no wonder our bodies feel (and show) the results as we age.

But there’s good news! Even as you age, lost flexibility can be regained and you may even find yourself with more range of motion than you had when you were younger. With a little work and determination, you can rewrite your fitness fate to include the flexibility and fluidity that will keep you looking and feeling good as you age.

Your most valuable player in the flexibility game? Stretching. As you stretch, muscles and tendons lengthen, increasing your flexibility and warding off injuries and pain. Increased flexibility helps you achieve your most fit self, and we all know this helps decrease all types of age-related and genetic health issues.

Stretching opens up our range of motion and helps correct poor posture as muscles lengthen and bodies return to their proper alignment. This contributes to a more efficient and safe workout. When your body is limber, it performs better.

Studies have found that stretching may leave an even more positive impact on your aging body. Your heart and arteries may be feeling the love. Blood circulation increases. And if all this isn’t convincing enough, stretching also benefits the mood. As stress decreases in both the mind and muscles, you’ll find yourself with a better outlook and a healthier body.

 

So now that we’ve convinced you that stretching is a must, what’s the best way? There are dozens of questions. What types of stretches should I do? How many? How long should I hold them? When is the best time to stretch?

There are a few general guidelines you can follow. Avoid pain while stretching. You want to feel the burn, but not pain in your joint. Don’t push yourself too hard. Remember to breathe steadily. You should be relaxed and in control of your stretch throughout the entire process.

Keep in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all plan. The truth is, like all exercise, your stretching routine should consist of what works best for you. Try different stretches and techniques and stick with what makes you most comfortable and meets your specific needs. Remember, the goal is to maintain movement and mobility, not be a human pretzel.

 

Put yourself on a schedule and run through your stretches a few times a week starting out. Check out how Flashy Fit works stretching into your routine – we’ve got you covered on those, too! Sign up now and see the difference mobility can make in your life!

 

 

Moving & Mobility: Preventing Injuries

runner legs stretched

Our bodies change as the years pass, and a common age-related complaint of women over 40 is a decline in mobility or range of motion. Pain may also come in new forms and stays longer than usual. When injury strikes, what once kept us sore for just a couple of days may take weeks of recovery and a trip to the doctor. But aging shouldn’t dampen drive or dedication. Instead, the way we approach athletic endeavors must be modified to help prevent injury.

Genetics, physique, and environment all play a part in the aging body’s movement and mobility – the body’s ability to move independently and safely. Gradually, daily tasks and chores become more difficult. Your favorite activity induces more pain. Even worse, this could be the first sign of further functional decline – a fate no one wants to face.

An increased risk of injury becomes a fact of life as we approach 40 and beyond. The benefits of exercising still apply, and we know it’s important, but now our activity comes with potential new maladies we have to take on. So how do you stay strong and active, without pushing yourself into painful, even dangerous, injuries? Here are some tips on maintaining fitness, sans injury.

Don’t do too much, too fast. You’ve got high expectations – we understand! We do, too. Working smarter, not harder has to be the name of your game now. You have to respect your changing body. As mobility, strength, and intensity levels change, so must your fitness routine. Start small and slow, and work your way up.

Take time to prepare and condition your body outside of your regular activity. Warming up before jumping in, and cooling down when you’ve finished your workout are also vital. Your muscles are tighter and shorter, so stretching is more important now that it has ever been. For some guidance, check out our Warm Up and Cool Down Fitness Programs.

Once you’ve jumped in, listen to your body and respect its limits. As we age, no pain means we can continue to gain. When your body sends hints like aches and soreness, take note. Be attentive to these little cries for attention. You’ll know when you’re ready to safely take an exercise up a notch.

One of the best things you can do to respond to pain is rest. This is a tough one because we all want to get back on the horse as soon as possible, but your body needs time to heal. If your sprained ankle is constantly nagging at you, it’s time to give it a little extra care. Take the couple extra days of rest and you’ll find yourself unsaddling less down the road.

You may even find it beneficial to extend any built in recovery periods in your workout regimen. Avoiding adequate recovery periods sets your body up for even worse injuries. Give your body plenty of time to replenish and repair.  

You may also find that performing certain types of exercises can help prevent injury. Strengthening exercises, for example. A body with stronger muscles, tendons, and ligaments, can utilize proper form more easily. Maintaining proper form while exercising offers an extra layer of protection for joints and bones, decreasing your risk of injury. Core strength is one of the most efficient ways of achieving this goal.

Getting fit or staying in shape poses different challenges once we hit our 40 mark, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Follow these guidelines for keeping your body injury-free and check out our site for Fitness Programs and guidance tailored to women like you!