Yoga and Stretching
Existing research indicate that there’s little evidence supporting benefits of stretching and long stretches for 1 or 2 minutes weaken the muscle. In addition, long static stretches can also loosen ligaments and their ability to hold joints.
Most yoga class participants focus only on the physical aspect of stretching without a proper alignment which can lead to poor movements and injuries.
Dr. Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, has stated that, “static stretching deadens the muscle from a neural perspective – diminishing the stretch reflex and reducing peak strength and power. On the other hand, “active flexibility” facilitates muscle contraction and wakens the neural system”.
Yoga and Loss of Mobility
If you feel tight and need to stretch regularly it may be an indication that your body has muscle and joint imbalances. Stretching might provide temporary relief, and it will not address the problem of faulty alignment and it can lead to a further dysfunction.
The existing Yoga and Pilates programs follow the footsteps of the mainstream fitness and they don’t include dynamic movements required for daily life outside the gym such as bending, carrying, walking and others.
A typical Yoga and Pilates instructor does not have a complete knowledge of the functional anatomy and they cannot help their students to develop a scientifically sound functional alignment and movement.
Yoga and Pilates benefits are limited to performing movements and poses during a class. However, they are not useful in real life and don’t prevent a loss of the overall mobility and a functional decline in the long-term.
One of the major problems that affect all populations is the ability to walk with age. Functional Flexibility offers concepts and instructions how to improve the walking gait to prevent losing the ability to walk in the long-term.
Functional Flexibility does not include static stretching and incorporates body weight exercises such as squats, hand walks, crawls, lunges, get ups and downs and each movement can be modified to meet the needs of all class participants.
These movements have proven to be very effective for improving flexibility and strength for older adults because they involve dynamic movements of multiple muscle groups, and the body is trained to function as one integrated system.
In addition, functional flexibility class includes ballroom line dancing choregraphed to rumba, merengue and waltz music to complement the development of proper functional flexibility and movement.
When I started my fitness life, I was extremely tight. It is hard to believe now that I could only bend forward in standing position to 30 degrees before feeling discomfort.
Also, I could not sit on the floor with the legs extended and had to use my arms to support the upper body. I took many yoga classes, and they brought no improvement. Regular practicing of functional movement increased joint range of motion, corrected muscle imbalances and improved very significantly my overall flexibility.