By Jill Schiller, private trainer
The human body is an amazing structure. It has many functional capacities that have progressed over the years. It begins when we are young when we begin to crawl, stand, and finally, walk. Our bodies begin to learn and develop the fine motor skills it takes to progress to more complex movements. Our posture is important in maintaining proper function through our activities of daily living. If we have incorrect posture and improper alignment in our body, we are contributing to poor musculoskeletal health, and this can affect us not only short term in how our bodies currently function, but also long term, contributing to injury as we age.
It is important to perform the five primary movements in all three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. These five primary movements are bend-and-lift, single-leg, pushing, pulling, and rotational. Training these movements will help improve your ability to perform your daily activities with ease and with less chance of injury.
We go about our day moving our body in many different directions --- we squat as we sit or stand from a chair, walk up stairs, put items on high shelves, push doors open, lift our torso when getting out of bed, or reach across the body to pick up an object on the opposite side. If we have trained our body to perform these movements with proper posture, alignment, balance, and flexibility, we not only decrease our chance of injury both now and as we age, but we can also increase our quality of life without having limitations of movement of our bodies.
One of the first things you want to be aware of is your posture. There are four steps to remember to help you improve your posture:
Hold your chest high
Retract your shoulder blades (scapulas)
Contract your abdominals
Alignment issues can be improved by implementing these steps. If you have proper form, it will help how you function. Additionally, improving bone density, balance, and flexibility are key to helping prevent injury as we age.
You can improve your bone density by including exercise such as walking, running, yoga, Pilates, or strength training exercises using bodyweight, dumbbells, tubing, body bars, etc., into your daily routines. An average sedentary, non-strength training adult loses five pounds of muscle mass each decade due to disuse of the muscles (atrophy); this also slows down the body’s resting metabolism which can contribute to weight gain. When you improve your bone density, you are telling your body to lay down more muscle tissue, in turn causing your metabolism to increase, helping your body burn more calories at rest. So when you increase your muscle mass, you are not only helping make your bones stronger and building muscle, you are also helping your metabolism.
Lastly, strengthening your core helps train your muscles to support the spine and equips you to use your upper and lower body muscles more effectively. A strong core contributes to your sense of balance. Including balance exercises such as tai chi (moves that focus on weight shifting, body alignment and coordinated movements of arms and legs), or using equipment such us balance boards, stability balls, or BOSUs, can help you strengthen your core. Be sure to have something handy to hold onto for support as you learn to use the different equipment for balance.
Being mindful of your posture, implementing strength training to help improve your bone density, and including core and stability exercises are crucial as we age to prevent injury. For more information on Age Related Injury Prevention, please attend the free NW Personal Training Knowledge is Power education seminar May 27 at 7 p.m. Jill Schiller is a group instructor and private trainer at NW Personal Training. For more information, contact Schiller at JillS@nwPersonalTraining.com, call 360-574-7292 or visit the NWPT website at nwPersonalTraining.com.