Aging gracefully with Functional Movement Training
I always tell my clients that the brain does not recognize isolated muscle activity (i.e. bicep curl on a weight machine) and training it that way well not help with improving your movement. Our bodies are capable of unbelievable durability and resiliency. We are made to grow strong and to age gracefully. We must reclaim the flexibility we had when we were younger. Don’t let anyone tell you because your older you are incapable of being able to do the things you did in your youth. Flexibility is the only thing that you can maintain as you age. Power, strength and endurance will diminish, but a loss of flexibility is from years of living a sedentary lifestyle. If you are healthy and without injury you should still be able to move without pain and stiffness. We simply cannot have better fitness and improve the quality of our life without improved movement/flexibility.
The problem individual’s face when they go to a gym is they come across modern fitness equipment that allows them to move muscles without the burden of controlling their own bodyweight. These machines also mask balance or alignment issues you may have allowing you to lift weight that you normally would not be able to. As a result these machines do you a disservice by not actually pointing out your movement dysfunction. For example, when you lift your carry-on bag into a plane’s overhead compartment, you don’t have a backrest to lean against like while using a shoulder press machine in a gym. You have your muscles in your feet, legs, inner and outer core to sense your position which holds you upright. This is why gym equipment in general is ineffective. Your body is in a constant state of dynamic movement, one that requires coordination that many machines do not provide or even allow.
We need to start training muscles in the way you use them. We cannot simply move from machine to machine thinking that you are functionally training yourself. By doing that you are hardening your arms and legs and leaving your core soft. Your extremities should never be trained before your core. What people don’t realize is that to properly train your core abdominal crunches or any other type of flexion of your spine needs to be avoided at all costs, especially in senior populations. Core training is all about protecting your spine from going into hyperextension, so the last thing we want to do is avoid unnecessary strain on these structures. Also as we age we have a tendency to become less active causing you to lose mobility and stability in your hips. Your hips should be the focus of every movement you make; they are the engine that makes your body move. Another important factor to consider is we should be doing everything possible to build an injury buffer zone by training healthy movement. It is always better to bend than break and strong agile bodies bend better than weak stiff bodies.