The Importance of Flexibility & Core Strength

FLEXIBILITY

Flexibility of the body’s muscles and joints is an important component of many daily activities. Optimal musculoskeletal flexibility can improve an individual’s performance by increasing a joint’s movement, possibly decreasing the risk of musculoskeletal injury. A number of anatomical and training-related factors affect flexibility. Some factors—such as joint structure, age, and sex—cannot be altered significantly by training. Stretching can be used to improve a body’s flexibility. Stretching should be performed at the following times for optimal benefits:

Before an activity. Stretching before an activity improves performance by increasing the available range of motion and improving functional abilities. Ideally, stretching should be done following a general warm-up of 5-10 minutes.
Following an activity. Post-activity stretching facilitates range of motion improvements because of increased muscle temperature it should be performed within 5 to 10 minutes after the activity. Post-activity stretching may also decrease muscular soreness.

CORE STRENGTH

What Is the Core?

It is where the body’s center of gravity is located and more importantly, from which all movements are initiated. The core is also responsible for developing power, maintaining balance and stability, and improving coordination during movement.

Muscles of the Core include:

  • Abdominals
  • Hip
  • Back

These muscles are responsible for supporting postures, creating motion, coordinating muscle action, allowing for stability, absorbing force, generating force, and transmitting forces throughout the body. This means that regardless of the movement or activity, the center of your body is responsible for the process and outcome.

Benefits of a Strong and Stable Core

  • Improved Stability and Efficiency

Most major muscles of the upper and lower body attach to the spine or pelvis. Strengthening this anchor helps to provide a stable platform, allowing more powerful and efficient movement of limbs.

  • Improved Balance

A stronger core helps the spine and pelvis maintain stability while the muscles of the shoulders, arms, and legs are active. A stronger core will help prevent being placed in an off-balanced position.

  • Reduced Risk of Injury

Experts believe that a weak core can lead to an overload on the extremities, causing injury in certain situations. Increasing one’s ability to generate power while maintaining stability and balance leads to a reduced risk of injury. The muscles of the core when strong, stable, and efficient are better able to absorb and translate force, putting less stress on extremities.

BALL BASICS

The Stability Ball has become a very popular tool within the clinical rehab setting. Recently, Stability Balls have become popular outside the rehab settings. Their effectiveness in developing balance and core strength has earned them a spot in the fitness industry.

Selecting the Correct Ball Size

When you sit on top of the ball, your upper legs (thighs) should be parallel to the floor and your knees should be at 90-degree angle. If it is not possible for you to test the ball before purchasing it, you can use the size chart to approximate which ball is likely the most suitable.

Size Chart

HEIGHT BALL SIZE
5’-5’7 55 CM
5’8-6’2 65 CM
6’3-6’9 75 CM
OVER 6’10 85 CM

Inflating the Ball

Inflate the ball to its height. For example, with a 65 cm ball, mark a line on the wall at 65 cm and use the ruler placed level on the top of the ball to indicate when the ball reaches 65 cm. You can also us the touch test. When you can press in about 1-2 inches with your index finger, the ball is correctly inflated.

Depending on your skill level, you can inflate the ball less, making it more “stable” (beginner), or inflate it more, making the ball more “lively” (advanced).

About Paul Stofko

Paul "Crazy Legs" Stofko is a Fitness Specialist, RRCA Certified Running Coach, and Ultra Marathoner. Read Paul's full bio here and learn more from him on his website.

Speak Your Mind

*