Flexibility, strength key to fitness

When it comes to fitness terminology, we have all heard the words ‘flexibility’ and ‘core strength’ used quite often. But do we know what they actually mean?

By definition, flexibility refers to the ability of your joints to move through a full range of motion. Having flexibility in your muscles allows for more movement around the joints.

Core strength is the balanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back. So why are these two elements so important in terms of fitness and how do they relate to one another?

If a person has poor flexibility they are more injury prone, especially when playing sports.

If your muscles are tight, your joint range of motion is more limited and when you are in the middle of a game you often need to dive, reach, jump or lunge fast. If you have limited range of motion, that reach may be just a bit too much and then you end up with a pulled muscle.

Similarly, if your core is weak, when you dive for a ball or swing a golf club you are putting your back at risk as the muscles that are meant to stabilise it can’t do their job.

If you have strong core muscles, they can also help support your spine while you go through your regular activities of daily living such as carrying groceries or lifting your child onto their bicycle, as well as stabilize and support your torso when participating in sporting activities such as golf, tennis, football and swimming.

If you have a strong core and poor flexibility or visa versa you may still be prone to injury.

That is why it is a good idea to participate in exercises that train both your core muscles your flexibility.

Participating in an activity such as Pilates that incorporates a flexibility element can address both elements to give you increased flexibility and range of motion as well as core strength to help stabilise your back.

So while cardiovascular fitness is extremely important for your health; flexibility and core strength are also key in keeping your body health, fit and strong.

Deanna Smith is an exercise physiologist and Pilates instructor at ENERGY. She can be contacted at 946-6006 or [email protected]

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