If you have spent any time at all in the gym or doing other fitness based activities, then you will have heard over and over again how important it is to develop core strength and flexibility. The reason for this is quite simple, developing and maintaining flexibility and core strength is integral to living a healthy and active lifestyle. It is an essential component of protecting our bodies from injury when participating in any physically challenging activities such as sports, manual labour or even more simple tasks such as gardening! Not only that, but having good core strength and flexibility will help keep us mobile and independent into our golden years.
Core Strength and core muscles are being used at almost every moment in our awake state, from twisting, lifting, throwing, bending, balancing, walking to even just standing or sitting up straight. Working on maintaining core strength can improve and prevent back pain as well as improve posture. Often when people think about core strength, the first thing that comes to mind is having a six pack or ripped abs, our backs often get neglected in these thoughts. The core makes up our entire torso area, and real core strength comes when their is a balance between front and back muscles. In fact, an inbalance between the front and the back of the core can actually set you up for injury, so it is essential to work on and strengthen both equally.
Flexibility is important throughout our whole body. Not only does it help our joints work through their full range of movement and enable us to move about with more ease and comfort, but flexibility also enables our muscles to work at their peak performance. This helps protect us from injury when participating in sports or any general physical activity. Often when people think of flexibility the first thing that comes to mind is whether or not they can touch their toes, but flexibility is much much more than just loosening your hamstrings. Keeping the muscles, ligaments and tendons throughout your whole body flexible, including your hips, spine and shoulders, is a extremely important part of maintaining overall health and fitness.
Fortunately there are many different classes and programs that focus on both flexibility and core strength. These are available in gyms, fitness centres Practices such as Pilates and core based exercises and stretches can also help a person recover and regain strength or movement after an injury
Pilates uses a combination of exercises that are done with precision and control in order to develop strength and increase flexibility. It is often practised with the aid of equipment such as resistance bands, double handed ring and soft balls. Pilates uses safe practices that, like yoga, are able to be adapted to suit different levels of strength and flexibility, meaning there is always room to be challenged and improve.