So what is ‘structural fitness’? A structurally fit body is one where all the joints are free and balanced and all the muscles are at their natural resting length and able to work in harmony – a balanced, integrated unit that functions with minimal strain and maximum efficiency. This is quite the opposite of what many people experience in their everyday lives. When our bodies regularly feel off-kilter – fatigued, heavy, stiff, tight, off-balance, sluggish and/or prone to aches, pains and injury – a lack of structural fitness is most likely the root cause.
If this is how we feel, we tend to think that working out more, running faster, training harder will help – it’ll give us more energy, make us feel better, stronger, lighter, faster. But the opposite is usually the case. Working an imbalanced, stressed structure harder only results in more wear and tear, increased muscular inefficiency and tightness, and yet more strain on our body. We feel worse, not better, and can’t figure out why. And even if we’re not particularly sporty, we can still suffer. Sitting at a desk, using the computer, driving, and many other aspects of our modern lifestyle are the cause of postural stress, leading to structural inefficiency, strain and – eventually – pain.
The answer? It’s time to start working smarter, not harder. We need to free up our whole structure to remove bio-mechanical stress on any of our body parts. When our body is balanced and moves with ease and lightness our physical performance improves naturally. We have increased vitality, more energy and physical confidence and are less prone to injury. And the benefits of structural fitness aren’t just physical; we’re more mentally alert, have more emotional resilience and cope better with stress.
So think about adding structural fitness into your training and fitness regime this year. Yoga, pilates and stretching can increase your awareness of where your body is tight and off-kilter and work to rebalance it. Massage and bodywork will address the whole structure as well as targeting the specific areas of tightness and tension in the soft tissues that are pulling your body out of alignment. Put it all together to improve your structural fitness and you have the best possible foundations for a strong, happy, strain and pain-free body.