In the fitness biz these days there is a mantra “Stability before Mobility.”
“Oh crud”, you might say, “NOW what?”
Well, before you delete this, just give me a sec.
Like its non-sexy cousin balance, stability is something that is pretty much under the radar but can make a huge difference for you.
Let’s say you are trying to pick up something that is a just a little too heavy for you. You strain, make your body tense, brace yourself, and go for it. Everything works together so that you lift whatever it is and everything is good.
As you did that, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia all jumped in to protect your joints from slipping around or moving beyond what they were meant to do.
That may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: Aside from muscle tears or soreness, what usually runs amok with your exercise endeavors or even your moves through life? It’s your joints. As we all know, joints can be a real pain.
So, how do we take care of them?
There are three big ways to do this.
- Train balance. You can sense this yourself if you try to stand on one foot. All the structures mentioned above will be working to keep you from falling over. The result? Joint stabilization. This would be happening with any balance training. And that is why balance training should be part of any exercise program. It is also one of the first things that need to be trained if you are just beginning.
- Use free weights instead of machines. Using machines have their place, but they do most of the stabilizing for you. Lifting free weights forces your body to do its own stabilizing.
- When doing body weight exercises or lifting weights, be vigilant about your alignment. Think in terms of lines, not curves. Are you bent over, do you have rounded shoulders, or is your neck tilted forward or down? If you are lying on your side, are you in a straight line or curved? Straightening will help your stabilizing system do its best job.
Bonus: Here’s a cool thing. Say you aren’t feeling much like exercising one day or just don’t have the time. You can do leg raises in all four directions with our without ankle weights (see below). You have just given your knees a dose of stability training that may be huge for you going forward. Way good! Go for it!
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