When we begin an exercise program it is often to improve heart health or for weight loss. These are commonly known results of a regular exercise program, along with building strength in our muscles. But, did you know there are many other benefits to a regular exercise program?
Back in gym class, most of us learned about muscles…they get sore when we workout, and bones…they break if we whack them hard. But, what about ligaments and tendons?
Within our structural frame, our skeleton is a series of bones, connected at joints. Each of those joints have ligaments and tendons wrapped around and through to hold them in place and to actually move them. Tendons attach the beginning and end point of muscles to the bones, transferring muscular energy through the body.
These connectors are imperative to provide movement through lever action, joint stability and support, and alignment of bones, muscles, and organs.
Ligaments, tendons, cartilage and fascia are referred to as connective tissue. All are made of collagen–the most abundant protein in the body–providing strength to connective tissues and cushioning–as cartilage–to joints. And, as we know, our bodies reduce collagen production as we age. Therefore, if left to nature, our connective tissues would become less strong and supple, losing elasticity, and more prone to injury.
Injuries can be acute or chronic and include strains, overuse and inflammation (tendinitis and tendinosis), ruptures and tears, “she suffered a torn ACL” (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee). All of these can be extremely painful and require a variety of long term treatment, often including surgery and therapy.
The good news is, the best way to improve muscle and connective tissue health is EXERCISE!! These tissues also benefit from good nutrition and hydration. Consistent use of the connective tissues through a full range of motion will help maintain flexibility, agility and allow for good balance.
Cartilage—the buffer that protects the ends of bones—depends heavily on joint movement to absorb nutrients and remove waste, which means that for every step that you take you are not only strengthening the muscle and tendons surrounding that joint, you are also helping the cartilage and making it less susceptible to Osteoarthritis. Think: wrists while doing planks (joint weight bearing)! See, we do everything for a purpose!
Listen to your body. Many of us experience a reminder of a past injury. This can be a dull ache or a sharp, debilitating pain. Regular, controlled and specific exercises can alleviate the issue or strengthen the muscles surrounding the injury, reducing the direct pain.
However, there are times, when we just need to stop doing what hurts! 🙂 I could be a doctor.
Let’s strive to be “better than yesterday’s self”!