Flexibility, Balance and Strength: Keys to aging gracefully
Flexibility, balance, and strength are 3 key components to help you age gracefully.
Flexibility declines with age. Some studies suggest that flexibility between the ages of 30 and 70 will decline anywhere from 20 – 30%. Other studies show that as people age, the range of motion during walking (movement of the lower extremity joints) gets progressively smaller. Range of motion within hip flexion and extension and reduced ankle flexibility, seem to be the strongest contributing factors.1
Balance is also critical for the modern biped. Balance involves the coordination of various body systems including vision, the vestibular system, and proprioception. If any of these systems are not functioning optimally, you can lose balance. Research has shown that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 fall, and at least once a year. It is known that 10 – 15% of these falls end in serious injury.2
As we age, we lose both muscle mass and strength. We begin losing strength as early as our mid-thirties and, by the age of 75, most people have a reduction of 50% of total muscle mass. Strength and balance are connected.3 As muscle strength diminishes, our proprioceptive system can falter leaving us more vulnerable to falling.
All three components- flexibility, balance, and strength- have been shown to diminish with age. Some people even think that this decline is an unavoidable aspect of the aging process. Research tells us otherwise.
Remarkably, multiple studies have shown that with proper physical stimulation- all three categories can maintain, and in a few cases, even improve over time.
In the Kaiut Yoga practice, we methodically use 3 factors to potentially make gains in flexibility, balance, and strength. These 3 factors are:
- Time: In Kaiut Yoga, we use time in the asanas to stimulate mobility, balance, and strength. Time under pressure stimulates circulation and mobility in the joints. Demanding from the balance center while standing for periods of time, improves and maintains a well-functioning balance center and tone in the muscles.
- Gravity: The human body is always interfacing with gravity. In the Kaiut method, we use gravity intentionally for two reasons. One, to stimulate the balance center. Two, to allow the nervous system to reset (e.g. slowed respiration and heart rate which promotes a parasympathetic mode where healing can occur).
- Variety: The foundation of the Kaiut Yoga method was built around variety. The human body’s design has evolved over millions of years, needing variety of movement patterns in order to sustain functionality. Because the body and nervous system is stimulated and demanded in a vast number of ways in the Kaiut Method, the nervous system’s evolutionary tendency to adapt takes place. As a result, there is an improvement in the maintenance and function of the body and brain.
There is no set way or timeline, for how people age. Wouldn’t you like to increase your chances of aging gracefully by methodically challenging and improving your flexibility, balance, and strength?
As Francisco Kaiut, developer of the method, has said
“I don’t care if I can do a headstand. I care if I can put my pants on by myself when I’m 90.”
We think that’s an admirable goal for anyone.
Kaiut Yoga Boulder will continue to provide a means, through The Kaiut Method, to age gracefully, regain functionality and reach your potential. If you found this post helpful, please pass it along to a friend. You never know when you might be the one that helps someone in need. Let’s age gracefully together.
1. Adams, K.,O’Shea, P., O’Shea,K. “Aging: Its Effects on Strength, Power, Flexibility, and Longevity”, Strength and Conditioning Journal, April 1999. Strength and Conditioning Journal
2. Berkeley Wellness, “Keeping Your Balance As You Age”, September 1, 2017.
3. Zagaria, M.A. “ Sarcopenia: Loss of Muscle Mass in Older Adults”, August 2, 2011. US Pharmacist