Muscles Matter

Your Muscles Matter

Keeping good muscle strength and length to maintain movement is important component of an exercise program

Muscle
changes with age, inactivity, injury or a chronic condition which results in
weak muscles, reduced mass, decreased quality and flexibility. Some muscles
tighten whilst others lengthen which can change overall body alignment. Muscle
can be improved with exercise. For best results and for safety reasons,
maintaining correct alignment, form and technique are important elements to
apply in any exercise regime.
Muscle weakness can be overcome and improved
by strength training. It is important therefore to include a strengthening
component within any exercise program. Apart from improving muscle strength it
also improves functional capacity and mobility. Muscle does not alter the
ability to adapt to task requirements. 
It is possible for anyone at any age to undertake a strength training
program provided basic safety considerations and exercise principles are
adhered to.

For
optimal lifelong functional capacity a certain amount of muscle mass is
necessary otherwise activities become harder or impossible to do and diminish due to the effects of inactivity. Muscles
have different properties which provide the variety of necessary daily
movements undertaken by everyone. These range from free, easy functional movements to power and strength activities as
well as flexibility; endurance; speed and fine motor skills. 

Consequences
of Weak Muscles (Sarcopenia)

Overall muscle strength
changes that occur result in a) Reduction in muscle function relating to
general movement involving activities of daily living capacity b) Reduced
strength; mobility ; joint pain c) Reduced body control and Increased risk of
falls and injuries (with bone fracture association) d) Loss of function,
independence and reduced quality of life

Research
is recognising the importance of maintaining muscle mass and strength to increase
functional independence and decrease the prevalence of many age-associated
chronic
diseases.”            

(Extracts
obtained from ACSM position stand. Exercise and physical activity for

older adults

1998



 

Strength and Stretching Exercises Benefits

Muscles
essentially create and control movement therefore
a good
level of muscular strength and capacity is important.
Muscles
have many roles and functions linked to various activity needs as shown below

1.    Progressive
strength training can reduce preserve,
protect and / or prevent some of the decline associated with ageing and
inactivity.
Good  muscular control increases and maintains
muscle mass, power, strength and endurance

2.   
Maintains
a good circulatory system by
working to pump blood through
the body

3.   
Assists
manage specific conditions by stabilising specific joints to retain good
overall body alignment (decreasing joint swelling and pain related issues etc.)

4.   
Increases joint stability to prevent poor alignment/ postural problems
and reduces pain associated factors.

5.    Assists maintain bone strength to prevent / reduce the
problems associated with osteoporosis

6.   
Maintains
efficient and effective body systems.

7.   
Maintains
free and easy movements for good functional activities necessary for daily
living and protects against unsafe movement .
e.g.
lifting and carrying ; pushing and pulling

8.   
Helps in the management of
diabetes (improved glucose uptake).

9.   
Increases vitality and energy
levels which in turn
improves stamina and general
fitness

10. Lifts mood thereby reduces
depression and improves mental capacity.

 

Strong Muscles …..Exercise Potential  

Strength – Basics exercise guidelines

·        
Always include warm up and
cool down before undertaking strength training

·        
Stretch at the end of the
exercise- each muscle group or at end of session

·        
When starting – One set of 8-
12 repetitions is sufficient

·        
Consider and
apply correct starting lifting techniques ….

·        
Lifting speed = 3 up 3 down –
hold position for 2-3 seconds

·        
Don’t speed up as the weights
increase

·        
Work on perceived rate of
intensity (it shouldn’t be too easy)

·        
If there is a sub maximal
effort increase the number of repetitions before increasing the resistance or
weights

·        
Gradually progress the amount
of weight being lifted to challenge the muscles

 

“In relation to daily
functioning, a decline in strength may be more detrimental for the elderly than
a decline in cardiovascular fitness”

 

 

Keeping flexible
is an
important component of an exercise program

Muscle elasticity diminishes with age with increased muscle stiffness resulting in joint stiffness and the body becoming
tighter.
Increased stiffness
occurs in all joints of the body and surrounding soft tissue e.g. tendons, ligaments,
joint capsule, fascia.
Restricted
movement
is directly linked to
reduction in functional abilities
and there is a marked
increased susceptibility to falls and associated injuries.

The overall body can become resistant to stretching.
Stretching exercises are therefore an important component of an
exercise program as well as
strengthening
exercises

Stretching – Basics exercise guidelines

·        
Always consider and apply
correct starting position and body alignment

·        
Avoid bouncing or jerky
movements (especially with arthritic joints changes)
 

·        
Only stretch as far as is
comfortable (there is no such thing as no pain no gain)

·        
Try to hold the stretch for at
least between 15- 20 seconds at a time

·        
Breathe normally and stay
relaxed