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"Help! I'm getting older and I just want my body to move better!"

STRENGTH THROUGH LENGTH TRAINING PRINCIPLES EXPLAINED

FOR THE AGING HUMAN:


So you’re getting older…Fighting a few new aches and pains?...Finding it hard to get up off the couch after sitting for a while?...Thinking about pulling out of your favorite recreational activity because it makes your body hurt all over for days after?....Dreading the aching back after the spring yard cleanup?


It’s not fair that you have generally looked after your body all your life, only to have “old age” cause you pain, rob you of your energy, and restrict your movement ability. Right?


Well, I have news for you! Aging is not what is zapping your energy, making you sore, and stifling your ability to move pain-free and easily. It is weakness! The reason you are not moving strong, free, and easy has very little to do with your age and has everything to do with a lack of strength. The good news is that your body, no matter what age, has the potential to strengthen and maintain the ability to move strongly, pain-free, and easily and there are "best practices" to make this happen!


It is important to understand that not all methods of strength training will give you the results you seek. Changing/adapting the human body to move strongly and efficiently requires a method that carefully considers the relationship between strength and mobility.  


The relationship between strength and mobility is deeply intertwined.   Strength is gained by increasing the range of motion (ROM) in a joint and then further strengthening the joint by strengthening the entire length of the muscles that support that joint. This is called “Strength Through Length” or “Long Range” strengthening.


If you don’t have or use the full ROM of a joint (use the entire muscle length) when moving or exercising, then you only strengthen the supporting muscles in your existing limited range of motion. In other words, you only strengthen a shorter part of the muscle.  Consequently, your body/brain will limit you from using a fuller joint range because it knows you are weak in the greater range (length) and could suffer injury or pain if you go there. As a result, your range of motion remains limited and so does your joint strength. Regardless of age, the more range of motion you can open up in a joint, the stronger you will be.


Keep in mind also, that tendons are attached to the ends of your muscles and insert into a joint as an attachment to bone. A strength through length method of training is best for involving the tendons in the strengthening process. The health and strength of tendons are crucial to strong, pain-free mobility.


Joints with limited range of motion are often painful, tight, and crowded with fascial (tissue) adhesions and inflammation. They have weak ligaments and tendons and are slow to “warm up” to movement. 


Imagine a strong, fully mobile joint: strong supporting muscles with good responsiveness, not compressed; open with space to move, no fascial (tissue) adhesions, no inflammation, no pain, and good circulation of nourishing fluid around the joint providing nutrients for healthy connective tissues.


The job of your musculoskeletal system is to move the body most efficiently as it combats the forces of gravity. The more accessibility to stronger and greater ranges of motion, the stronger and more efficiently the body can move. With full ROM, efficient stacking, ordering, and balancing of your muscles and bones can naturally occur. Movement battling the forces of gravity is arranged to be optimal and efficient, leaving you pain-free with more "free" energy. The body is smart! With free access, it works out the best movement solution.


With limitations in mobility (poor ROM), the body will still figure out how to move you as efficiently and as effectively as it can, however, the result is often the development of compensating inefficient movement patterns and structural imbalances that costs energy and leads to tissue wear and tear, pain and/or injury.


Age is just a number, not the cause of your aches and pains and mobility limitations. We don’t get weak because we are old, we get old because we weaken.


To avoid “feeling old” as you age, strengthening using quality strength through length methods for optimizing mobility is the way to go!


For more information on this topic or related topics, contact any Alliance Coach.

Thanks for reading!


Sara Gillis

Alliance Coach



Note: Coach Sara’s training methods are designed to help clients of all ages achieve optimal mobility.


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