Athlete Strength. Dancer Grace. The Importance of Strength & Flexibility
Build muscle - Evolve resilient bodies - Induce strength
Lengthen muscles – Stretch to capacity - Bend without breaking
These are the goals that drive our barre classes, each with a coinciding theme: strength and flexibility. We find strength in the burn of each small movement and we find flexibility in the release. Strength is the quality of being strong, flexibility is the quality of being limber. While they may sound dissimilar, barre is the art of fusing these two abilities together to encourage the most able bodies. In fact, we highly value the fact that they work best in partnership.
S T R O N G – Each pulse, plié, and contraction that causes the muscles to shake is pushing muscle fibers to the point of total exertion. By fatiguing not only the large muscle groups but also their supporting accessory muscles, our prime motive is strength. Strength is crucial to a healthy body because it supports life functions, maintains general health, and fosters overall wellness.
F L E X I B I L E – You most likely recognize this as the stretching component of class – the warm up, the barre stretch after a series, the final stretch on the mats - you certainly are not wrong. After peak exertion, we deliver a stretch to release the muscles that were previously pushed to their limit. However, what you might not know, it that anytime we are working an exercise in extension, this is also promoting flexibility. Flexibility is crucial to a healthy body because it a key player in injury prevention, reducing stress in fatigued muscles, and promoting a greater range of motion to take your workout to the next level.
So how do they work together?
The relationship between strength and flexibility is significant for a variety of reasons. Flexibility affects strength because a limited range of motion is going to hinder your best strength gains. Think about the mobility required in a squat … when you get deeper into the movement, you can push the muscles further. Having the flexibility to put your body in the proper position and alignment for an exercise is a vital part of fitness. But with that said, the stronger you get, the more flexibility you lose. It is crucial to continue to stretch before, after, and during resistance training to keep the body limber but also to maintain this desired flexibility.
Likewise, strength affects flexibility because flexibility without the corresponding strength to support it can result in joint instability. This is when tissues weaken and are no longer able to hold the bones of the joints in proper place. Lets break this down further – Joints allow movement throughout the body. Ligaments hold the bones of the joints in place while your body is at rest; muscles hold the bones of the joints in place while your body while moving. It is absolutely essential that muscle strength is developed to support the body in motion.
In conclusion, the body must be both supple and strong. We consider this these two qualities fundamental in each barre class that we lead. And encourage you to find a balance between the two to cultivate the most functional, healthy, and best body possible!