As we age, muscles atrophy, bones become more brittle and connective tissue becomes more stiff. Here are some ways you can slow the process through working on flexibility and mobility.
Changes as we Age
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “All cells experience changes with aging. They become larger and are less able to divide and multiply. Among other changes, there is an increase in pigments and fatty substances inside the cell (lipids). Many cells lose their ability to function, or they begin to function abnormally.”
It is going to happen, the question is simply, when? Can we stave off the onset of these natural and unavoidable impacts of aging on our bodies? Many scientists believe that we can push the clock if you will through exercise and mobility training.
What is the cause of our body’s aging process?
Aging is a complex process. Individually, we see the affects of aging differently in different people and even different organs. Most gerontologists believe aging is due to some combination of heredity, diet, exercise and leisure, environment, culture, past illnesses, and other factors. Not very “pin-point” detailed is it?
In Adolescence, we mature within a window of a very few years. But aging on the other hand finds each person aging at a unique rate. Most believe that the bodies general aging process, turning the corner from continually getting better and stronger into decline begins at approximately age 30.
How can we delay the process?
We can in some aspects, delay the process through flexibility and mobility. In the imbedded video, Dr. Nick Barnes, a Maximized Living Dr. and team chiropractor for Team USA at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic games, explains some of the benefits. It starts with knowing why it is important.
Flexibility and mobility start in the spine. The spine is the support system for the the central nervous system. Through the spine, fluid flows that supports the central nervous system and it needs to flow freely.
Joint Function and Bio-mechanics
Many people, over time, end up with small muscular aches and pains that they compensate for through moving differently than we were designed to move. The result is normally joint problems, as the joint bares the load that was intended to be absorbed by the muscles and tendons. This is a detrimental side effect of poor flexibility, mobility and muscular injury.
Maintaining Flexibility and Mobility
First, why don’t we do it? I believe the answer to this lies in two things: 1) we simply don’t perceive that we have time, and 2), we view it as less beneficial to us as other types of exercise, so we let it seek the bottom of the priority stack. The second is key here, because it is important. Yes, it is even more important than that last mile you are going to run or last set of bench presses.
Eric Stephens puts it well at Breaking Muscle, Flexibility is less concrete than that last mile or last few lifts. “Like eating our vegetables, we know it’s good for us and we should do it daily, but we don’t always do it because it isn’t what we desire in the moment.”
Another important reason for maintaining flexibility is that it reduces injuries, since many injuries tend to be pulls and strains caused by having a limited range of motion, but calling on our bodies to provide us with more.
If you are spending an hour in the gym a few days a week, and doing no flexibility work, consider dedicating 10 minutes of your hour to this pursuit. Better flexibility can mean better overall health, slower aging, reduced risk of injury, and an overall healthier feeling. After all, who wouldn’t like to be able to bend over and tie their own shoes at 95? What have you never noticed that most elderly people wear slip-on shoes?