In our 20s, we pop into a HIIT class and then sneak out before the cool-down. We sit all day at work with very few breaks and never feel any ill effects. We enter our 30s and all of a sudden these habits leave us with a sore back, neck pain as well as muscle tightness. Why does it seem as if stretching becomes a necessity when you hit 30? Is it three decades of wear-and-tear catching up with us? Or is something else that is going on?
Age-related changes certainly do occur yearly, however more distinctly with different decades. When we are younger, we have far more collagen as well elastin which keeps our bodies firm, more resilient as well as with an improved ability to rebound. With age, comes increased wear-and-tear.
When you hit the age of 30, a change takes place physiologically called sarcopenia. That means that your muscle tissue begins to diminish owing to ageing. We inherently get weaker and lose our stamina so our bodies have to work harder to maintain the base level of fitness as well as to perform exercises and we feel the effects of exercises even more.
This change can result in heightened pain and risk of injury. We see a lot of sports injuries among this age group. Particularly in the low back, shoulders and knees in addition postural-related issues from being more sedentary or from working out without appropriate stretching or cooling down.
Where To Begin
With a body that is full of muscles, the idea of daily stretching could seem overwhelming. However you don’t need to stretch every muscle that you have. The areas that are critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis as well as quadriceps in the front of your legs. Stretching your shoulders, neck – in addition to your lower back – is also beneficial. Aim for a programme of daily stretches or – at the very least – three or four times per week.
Defining a proper stretch can be quite challenging and is something you should speak to a doctor about. There are a few generic tips which you can follow. For instance, a static stretch should always be held for at least 30 seconds every single day. To maintain – as well as improve – muscle flexibility, you need stretch a muscle for 30 seconds each day, every day. You will be able to trust your intuition with the form. If a stretch hurts, you could very well be doing it wrong.
Find a physical therapist or – alternatively – personal trainer who is able to assess your muscle strength and tailor a stretching programme to fit your needs. If you suffer from a chronic condition, for example Parkinson’s disease or arthritis, you’ll want to clear a new stretching regimen with your doctor before you start.
If you would like to learn proper stretching techniques – and how to exercise properly in general – then you need to do our Personal Training Diploma. Follow this link to read more.