Muscle Balance is the Key to Longevity

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

When born, muscles do not have strength. The fetal position in the womb has the backside flexed forward while the abdominal area is shorter. There are normal developmental milestones that occur after birth. The bobbing of the head in an infant is the inability to hold the head up using muscles.

Within the first year of life, the transformation of inefficient muscles to purposeful motions is amazing. Taken for granted is what happens neuro-muscularly to allow this to happen. Proper levels of muscular contractions are key to ultimately reach the skill levels of purposeful movement. Thus, a toddler then develops into a small child and continues into adulthood.

The body is fascinating but especially with aging, the body can have normal and abnormal movement patterns which can perpetuate and ultimately if abnormal can lead to dysfunction. Taking care of the body by eating right and exercising both aerobically and anaerobically can lead towards longevity. Sure, in many there may be predispositions for issues due to genetics but predispositions are only that.

Take control of the body and nurture it at all ages to provide it the best possible chance of being healthy and living a long life.

Consider these factors and be aware of them. There are three different type of muscles in the body. Cardiac muscle is the muscle of the heart, smooth muscle which deals with organs which are controlled without any cognitive input, and skeletal muscles which is comprised of over 600 muscles that we can actually control voluntarily.

The skeletal muscles are what is used for performing any activity such as walking, playing tennis or exercising while the other two types are functioning behind the scenes to keep up with the activities.

During purposeful movement, there are muscles that are contracting while other muscles are relaxing to allow for proper excursion so that good biomechanical movements can occur in an efficient way to create the desired outcome when exercising.

What happens in everyday life is that imbalances of the muscles that support the joints can lead to dysfunctions and pain when the body becomes imbalanced. Imagine doing a lot of push-ups and planks. These activities seem to focus mostly on the muscles on the front of the body being most active. However, proper shoulder blade (scapula)muscles must work as well to provide the stability in order to perform these activities correctly.

Another example is jumping a hurdle. The body is propelled forward and the leg rises but if the hamstrings are not flexible enough or the quads, hip flexors, or some foot muscles are not strong enough, injuries and dysfunctions can occur.

Overall, exercising is important to health and longevity but take into consideration body awareness to keep balanced. Many muscles work together and in a coordinated movement allow function and skill. The biggest detriment to continuing the activities of choice (which vary for each individual) are imbalances, breakdown and then the aches and pains.

No matter what sport or activity you enjoy, regular exercise for strength and flexibility will give you the best chance to continue. Learning about body imbalances in movement is the most crucial part of staying balanced. Did you know that using just the shoulder for exercising takes four joints working along with muscles in the arm, chest and back?

Performing a golf swing requires the arm, legs, and trunk to all coordinate for anything close to good execution.

Running depends on arm swing and trunk motions coordinating with the legs. Biking depends upon the stability positions of the arms to coordinated with the trunk and legs. The list goes on…

Whatever you decide to do for exercise, do it but make sure your muscle strength and length can guide your joints properly. In addition, undo the strains from your activities each day by working the other muscles to posture yourself correctly and remove undo stresses and strains.

Maintaining the muscles to keep the body balanced will allow the body to last longer in the activities you want to participate in.

To Your Health!

Find that professional that understands the body fully and help to guide you to your longevity in activities. Exercise smart and undo excessive strains. For further information, please call Fitness Together in downtown Naples at (239) 263-9348.

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