Many times over the course of my life, either with myself, a family member, friend or a club member an injury has occurred. I’ve heard it said over and over again, “Thank goodness that I’ve been exercising, because my injuries could have been a lot worse.”

This topic came from a long time member, who had been a victim of a serious auto accident a number of years ago. We started visiting after he was done with his exercise session for the day. He was feeling great! The circulation had his heart pumping, his lungs were breathing deep, his skin looked colorful and “sweaty” and he told me that those endorphins had kicked in and he thinks he is addicted to that feeling the most. As we discussed his routine and how he has come so far from those terrible days after his accident, he said to me “the scary thing to think about is where I would be if I didn’t exercise.” It seemed to fit in with the “scary” season upon us this month.

What we do to our bodies is pretty scary overall. What’s even spookier, is that so many people don’t do anything to correct bad health habits and behaviors that could potentially haunt them for the rest of their lives. We live in the here and now. We live with time and space of today. Not having time, being too busy and not understanding that the body and the behaviors that we practice today are determining how we’ll be in the future. The costume we’ve put on and are deciding to wear can affect so many things in our future.

So I want to ask you a few Halloween-like questions.

What’s scarier than a little goblin’ knocking on your door for some treats? Not being able pick that goblin up for some love when you notice it’s your grandchild. What’s scarier than a cold wintery night? Not being able to go outside because you suffer from circulation problems. What’s scarier than falling? Not being able to get up. What’s scarier than eating witches brew? Not being able to cook your own. What’s scarier than a werewolf on a full moon? Not being able to take your favorite pet for a walk. What’s scarier than the great pumpkin? Not being able to carry your pumpkin in from the car. What’s scarier than living in a haunted house? Not being able to live in your own.

Exercise can do these things for you! Where are you now with your exercise program? Where will you be in 10 years if you don’t start exercising now? What has exercise allowed you to continue to do in your life that hasn’t benefited one of your friends who doesn’t exercise? These are all spookily awesome questions!

Did you know that people who exercise live an average of 3 months in a debilitative state prior to death? That is compared to those who are active (but don’t do regular exercise) living in a debilitative state for 3-6 years. Finally, those who do nothing can live their last 10 years in a debilitative state. That is SCARY!!

It’s scary that people don’t think about the future, so many of us live for now. I’m too busy! I’m going to wait until my kids. I can’t start until. I’m too old! You know as well as I that there are no excuses for not taking care of yourself. That means today, tomorrow and in 10 years. I don’t care how old you are, you can start now!

Your body needs to move. If you do not move it on a regular basis you are setting yourself up for prolonged years of needed assistance. Yes, someone will have to take care of you. That is the scariest thing of all! Happy Halloween, I hope to see you at the gym!

It’s extremely sad to watch my Middle School and High School athletes attempt to touch their toes. It’s painful to watch how difficult it is for them to simply touch the ground while standing with their legs slightly apart. Recently, while working with one of my High School Swimmers, I watched her touch her toes during a seated-straddle leg stretch for her hamstrings. She said to me, “Remember when I couldn’t touch my toes in Middle School?” which I remember well. “Well, ever since I started ‘Cross-fit’ (which is a workout program that focus’ on functional strengthening of the body) I can now touch my toes. Isn’t that weird?”
Actually it’s not weird at all. Believe it or not, a trained and stronger muscle is also a more flexible muscle. This is exactly what has happened to my athlete. She has been strength training regularly and the return benefit is that she is now able to touch her toes. How cool is that?
Flexibility is one of those things that many of us brush off and believe that we either have it or we don’t. That’s not a true fact. There are many things that play into a person’s flexibility. It boils down to the health of your muscles and joints and it has absolutely nothing to do with how long your legs are and how short your arms are.
A healthy muscle is a muscle that is used regularly and it’s a muscle that is given the opportunity to maintain and increase its healthy status. Muscles stay healthy by being used. Use your muscles, whether in an exercise environment or an active work environment and that muscle will remain healthy from the blood flow that affects it and the added stresses that are put on it to work.
Muscles are directly attached to our joints and bones through the ligaments and tendons that connect everything together. When muscles remain healthy and move regularly, they pull and strengthen the ligaments and tendons that they are attached to. I’ve used this example many times; think of a rubber band. A rubber band that sits around for years and is never used or stretched is needed to perform and when it is used again and stretched, it cracks and/or breaks. That is very similar to what happens with your muscles, tendons and ligaments. If they are not used and conditioned they become just like that rubber band, they get tight, dry and immobile, with the increased possibility that they will crack and break.
All of this rubber-band kind of attachment gives your joints their flexibility. Tight dry ligaments and tendons, allow for little movement within the joint. The joint will stay tight and unable respond to the desired stretch. Strong, flexible and healthy tendons and ligaments are the complete opposite. They are able to stretch and move more freely, which results in greater range of motion and flexibility.
The best case scenario is that you practice your flexibility, which most of us don’t do. The second best scenario is that you practice your strength training. Strength training is directly related to the health of the muscle, which is directly related to the health of the ligaments and tendons, which allows for your joints to be more flexible. Flexibility is what allows you to now touch your toes or not.
Is it important that you be able to touch your toes? Not necessarily. It’s probably more important that you are able to reach your toes, so that you can put on your shoes and tie their laces. It’s more important that you can scratch your back, or clip your necklace behind your neck or to reach around to grab something or to step wide over that puddle of water; all things that require flexibility in your joints.
Now you know how Mr. Universe and all his muscles can stand with his feet together and put his palms on the floor, strong muscles are flexible muscles. It’s a really cool thing.