mobility and flexibility: joint edition
What is a joint?
Remember the song by the skeleton that went something like this: “The knee bones connected to the leg bones, the hip bones connected to the backbones?” It may seem simple, but those connections between two bones are called joints and in case you didn't know, they really matter. There are 360 joints in the human body and six different classifications for these joints. That’s a lot of joints which means it’s important to do what we can to keep these joints healthy.
How can you keep a joint healthy?
What if I told you that arthritis was found more in a sedentary obese population than a recreational runner?
If you didn’t check it out, I’ll sum it up for you: Researchers found that individuals that run “recreationally” for up to, and possibly more than 15 years, actually have a lower prevalence of Osteoperosis at 3.5% than individuals who are sedentary and don’t run at all at 10.2%.
So what’s the only thing that keeps a joint healthy? Movement!
We've all heard the saying, “Use it or lose it”. This is actually truer than you think, especially when it comes to joints. If you did the splits from the time your mother changed your diapers, to 3 years old, to 15 years old, to 40 years old, what do you think you’ll be able to do when you’re 60? That’s right, the splits! If you stop doing the splits or stop putting your arm above your head, you’ll lose the ability to do it! The same is true for joints. The more you move and use your joints the more likely you are to keep your joints healthy.
Now, what happens if you’re experiencing pain when you’re in the gym, working out, or just living life? Here are a few tips:
Work within a tolerable pain. This typically means 2-3/10 on a pain scale.
Use common sense. A good rule of thumb is if it feels sketchy, it’s probably sketchy.
If moving fast hurts, move slower. If a certain range hurts, don’t go in that range right now and if heavier weight hurts, go lighter! Take your time and be thoughtful with your movements.
Try different lifting equipment. Dumbbells work a little different than resistance bands, and bands might be a better option for the short term.
Find someone who can suggest different options and can supply you with a restorative program. Personal trainers, if they’re knowledgable, can be a good resource and so can physical therapists. Again, if they’re knowledgable.
Taking these precautions can be a good way to reduce your injury risk. But the one thing I want you to take away from this is that the only way to keep a joint healthy is to move it!
Jason is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and FRCms Functional Range Mobility Specialist and is the owner, and head personal trainer of JP FitPro. To see more from Jason regarding mobility, follow him on Instagram: @repthereds