Joel, an 84-year old client, has been quarantining since mid-March. Over the past four months, Joel has only left his house one time for a walk around the block. Most of his days are spent sitting, either watching hours of news reels or working on his art. With his wife’s encouragement, he began online training 3 days per week. Since beginning in early April, Joel consistently shows up to his sessions and performs his 60-minute routine. A few weeks ago, Joel’s wife mentioned his legs are ‘rock hard’ and his balance has dramatically improved. She recently joked and shared with me, ‘he even has a tushy now.’

If you work with the Active Aging clientele – baby boomers and seniors – you recognize that the sedentary lifestyle is directly related to an increase in all-cause mortality. Additionally, the lack of daily physical activity dramatically contributes to osteoarthritis and ultimate joint replacements as well as compromised balance and walking. These posture and movement changes severely impact their quality of life as well as overall health. However, the great news is, if you understand how to perform and institute a few simple, yet effective corrective exercises, you will help so many individuals just like Joel, improve their posture, balance, and walking. Even more, this strategy works whether training in the online environment like Joel does or if you work with your clients in person.

When working with the Active Aging population, the first component to developing a more optimal posture and movement strategy is to teach your clients how to incorporate the A, B, C’s – alignment, breathing, and control – the principles of the Integrative Movement System™. As mentioned, alignment, breathing, and control are essential to developing as well as maintaining an optimal posture and movement strategy and for safely achieving one’s health and fitness goals.

Optimal posture and balance begin with developing alignment of the head and neck over the core (thorax, lumbar spine and pelvis). Next, you want to help your client align their hip, knee, and ankle-foot complex. The hip should be relatively aligned over the ankle and foot complex. Loss of lower extremity alignment is a common cause of osteoarthritic changes of the hips and knees as well as major contributor to falls and walking issues.

Three-dimensional breathing – using the entire core – from top-top-bottom, side-to-side, and front-to-back – in the breathing process, helps create suspension. Suspension is the ability to essentially suspend one’s body over their lower extremity while standing on one leg, walking, or performing activities of daily life. Suspension is what enables a professional dancer to look as if she is moving with ease and grace. Suspension is also what helps a child to appear so free in their motions. The lack of suspension, also known as compression, is a major contributor to the loss of range of motion, joint degeneration, and the increase risk of falls in the older adult population.

Once your client achieves more optimal alignment and breathing, you want to teach your client how to control their posture and movement. Control is all about using the appropriate exercise progressions and choosing the most appropriate exercise and progression for your client. Using the appropriate exercise progressions enables your client to safely and effectively improve competence and confidence in their strategy. It is common to give clients exercise patterns that are too advanced and cause them to perpetuate non-optimal posture and movement strategies.

To see a demonstration of how to incorporate the principles of the Integrative Movement System™ into a simple series of exercises to create changes in awareness and postural control, follow the links below.  

If you incorporate this simple, yet incredibly effective strategy – along with the A, B, C’s – into your client’s programs, you will help your older clients develop both short and long-term gains in posture, balance, and ultimately performance. That is how you best serve your current clients and attract more individuals that want and need your expertise. Additionally, this strategy will help you differentiate yourself in the industry and grow your community.

Dr. Evan Osar and Jenice Mattek – authors, speakers, and developers of the Integrative Movement System™ – are presenting a 7-hour Pre Con on Thursday, September 24th at this year’s inaugural Fitness Fest Online Conference. In this online, interactive session, you will discover the most common reasons for joint, balance, and walking issues in older adults. You will discover the most appropriate corrective exercises for improving stability, mobility, and balance in your clients with hip, knee, and foot osteoarthritis as well as joint replacements. Additionally, you will leave this workshop the most effective exercise strategies for the hip, knee, and ankle-foot complex. You will leave this one-day intensive with the ability to create both immediate and long-term changes in your client’s posture, balance, and performance.