The key to a healthy body that feels good into your later years is simple....
...keep moving. Well, let me be a lot more specific, keep moving responsibly and intentionally. Movement for the sake of movement is good, but it's often a waste of time. In order to maintain joint health and function, you need to safely and effectively move your joints through the full ranges of motion. AND... this is the big part that 90 percent of the industry is missing, there has to be a load on the tissue as you move it!!! Meaning just moving your body with gravity is a waste of time if your goal is to maintain joint health.
Why you ask?
Think about it... allowing your body to drop into a position under the pull of gravity without you actively having to shorten the muscles that would if you where opposing gravity is pointless. Your muscles need to do the work to stay strong. This is why some stretches are also a waste of time. If you are using another body part or gravity to pull one of your other limbs/joints into a position... that does absolutely nothing for the strength of those muscles that need to work to take you into that position.
Your muscles have one function.....
...and that is to shorten... that's it. Take a look at the structure of a muscle. They shorten when the nervous system tells the myosin and actin to crawl over each other to pull the adjacent sacromers closer together, resulting in a contraction.... a shortening... and that is all they do. No stretch, no bouncy response to force, just a shortening.
If our goal is to increase strength or even just retain the strength we have and the stretch or movement we are doing does not require us to actively contract a muscle to move into that position, then what are we doing? Yup, you guessed it. Not much...
You are in your car on the top of a mountain. The twisty road below you is lined with a guardrail to keep you on the road. You start the car adrift down the road and take your hands off the steering wheel, ie. the muscle that moves your joints, and you think, "Well, I'm just going to see if my car gets better at staying on the road by smashing into the guardrail all the way down."
That is how stretching of various forms is trying to work. How many times do you have to have that car smash into the guardrail under the force of gravity before the car gets better at staying on the road??? You guessed it! It will never happen! Just like if we keep focusing on moving our joints into positions without actively contracting and loading the muscles that do the moving. They just will not get stronger... ever. Why do you think people that stretch have to keep doing their stretches.....
In order to maintain joint health and muscle strength....
there must be a load on the muscles that are doing the moving of the joint you wish to maintain/strengthen. Without it you are just testing out your own internal guardrails. Over and over and over again. And just like the guardrail on the mountain road, it is only a matter of time before the car goes crashing through. In your body, that looks like joint damage; the opposite of what you had hoped to create in the first place.
Do you find your self-lost and confused at this point?
Having been told most of our lives to stretch and move, and then reading something that states the opposite can be a little hard to swallow. If you are local to the greater Tampa Bay, Florida area please feel free to reach out to me directly. We can set up a 30 min consultation free of charge and I can show you some things to change with your routine that could benefit your joints and make your time better spent.
If you are outside the Odessa, Florida area please still feel free to reach out to us here at Fitness-Tek. We can make sure you get paired up with someone in your area that can give you the specific attention you might need. You may also be a great candidate for our online flexibility program!
For more information on this topic tune into our Live FB coverage on May 15th @ 12:30 est. Please bring all of your questions and concerns as we would love to get them answered for you!
Yours in Health