When we think of exercise we often think of the gym or running. More often or not, it’s our fitness levels we are trying to improve and things like mobility and functional movement gets a little lost. It is important to stay agile.
We may stretch after our intense workout but unless we are a frequent Yoga participant the chances are our lifestyle, age and weight are affecting our ability to move around.
When was the last time you crawled across the floor with ease? As mums, we are often doing this looking for that tiny piece of Lego and without knowing it our youngsters are keeping us agile. I knew there was a reason that Lego was created and made so small!
However what happens as our kids grow and we return to our office job? Our shoulders stiffen, our hips tighten and our back often gets stuck in the one position causing numerous issues.
So right now STOP what you are doing and touch your toes from standing…then get on your hands and knees and crawl around. What tightness are you feeling? How hard is it to get down from standing and then back up again? What’s in the way or holding you back from being able to move better? Maybe tight muscles? Aches and pains or even your tummy?
Are you concerned about this lack of mobility? Or is this the first time you have actually thought about it? It’s easy to feel more concerned about your dress size and fitness levels than agility. Maybe you are a little alarmed at how your flexibility has changed very quickly as you are sure you could do this last year?
What does being able to touch your toes from standing actually mean? Well believe it or not trying to stay loose and flexible by being able to touch your toes isn’t the only answer to you being agile as you age. Some people have never been able to touch their toes due to femur length therefore instead of stretching daily we could also include daily functional exercise.
Sitting at a desk and not taking a break and then attending a yoga, stretch or Pilates class isn’t the answer to more flexibility without injury. What you need to do more of is ACTIVATION of muscles and more mobility exercises daily.
What can you do to prevent injury and keep you more mobile?
Activation exercises that focus on the mind body connection and get lazy muscles working are the key, rather than over stretching the tight areas. Think a little outside the box here, maybe your hamstrings are tight because you overuse them? Maybe if you did less running or cardio and more glute strengthening exercises to fire up the glutes then the hamstrings wouldn’t have to work so hard.
Take a look in the mirror now. Are your quads (front of thighs) a lot more toned than your glutes (bum)? Did you have problems getting up from the floor in the earlier task I suggested? Maybe that’s because your glute muscles aren’t firing as they should? If this is the case then no amount of stretching will ease that feeling of tightness.
Our modern lifestyle often means we sit for long periods of time, so one idea is to make sure every hour you get up and walk a little, maybe change your position from sitting to standing and always being aware of how your posture is in your working position. Uncrossing your legs is also key to better alignment.
Strengthening our glutes does not mean adding compound moves to our workouts either as moving fast with speed often means we can’t get that mind body connection and therefore we once again fire up the quads or the hamstrings instead of the glutes.
Top tips for agile movement
Instead of constantly stretching and trying to stay flexible by touching your toes… instead spend time learning more functional movements, such as getting up from standing without putting pressure on your knees, back or pelvic floor.
Learn to be able to crawl on your hands and knees, learn to lunge with good form, learn to carry, lift and walk with good form, learn to sit with better alignment and learn how to stay flexible in REAL life.
Why is remaining agile in life important? We are getting older and our kids may one day have kids of their own, if you struggle with getting up from standing now then you are sure going to have difficulty in the future. With Supercharged Club, we are educating our mums to spend time moving better… being able to do the gardening at 70 or just tie my own shoe laces at 80 would mean so much!
Start moving more functionally by walking more, standing at your desk, training the glutes in isolation and not just compound exercises. Practice going down on one leg to a kneeling position and up on the other by activating those glutes and lifting the pelvic floor as you stand. Practice crawling like a toddler and practise the squat position you must use when trying to do a poo in Thailand! This stance keeps you agile for sure. Emma had to do this stance in ski boots on a slippery surface in Italy! Thankfully her wee went in the right direction as she was wearing white ski trousers… You never know when your new mobility moves will come into practice!
Resources on movement and flexibility
- Katy Bowman author, a great blog to help you think outside of the box when it comes to healthy bodies. We often think we are healthy if we can walk 2000 steps a day…yet if we can’ move functionally like tie our shoelaces or crawl around the floor…are we actually that fit?!
- Book recommendation – Move your DNA by Katy Bowman
- Find out how to change your movement patterns by simple and effective daily changes to your routine.
- Redefining fitness – read more about if actually touching your toes is important to your health.