Mobility & Joint Health
As I have moved through my career and discovered new concepts on ways to train people, what to assess for and how to promote longevity, focusing on the joint health has become a major priority for myself and my clients and so below are a few tips on how to keep your joints healthy and how to improve your range of motion.
1. Prioritize Movement at a Capsular Level
The capsule is the deepest layer you can get to. When you look at a joint, it’s the space where movement occurs and, to me, this is one of the most important areas of your body to maintain in order to keep you moving well. If a muscle surrounding a joint is tight, you have to see if the capsule is restricted first because, if it is, no amount of stretching of the surrounding muscles is going to make that muscle loosen up in the long run. The capsule is the first part of the body to sense movement and so you have to make sure it has space to move. We can assess this with the morning routine found at www.homeholisticla.com/morningroutine.
2. If a Muscle is Tight, Investigate Why
Once again, is the capsule restricted? If it is, we need to address that first. The little receptors that line the joint capsule need to be stimulated frequently. If they are not, either through lack of space or lack of movement, the surrounding muscle tone will increase. This is why the morning routine above is so helpful in making your body feel good because it sets your muscle tone for the day by informing your brain that your body is moving and all range of motion are needed.
If the capsule is not restricted, is the muscle tight because it’s weak or is it getting pulled out of balance by an overactive muscle somewhere else?
What we are feeling when there is a tight muscle is something called the stretch reflex. The stretch reflex is a low level involuntary contraction and the tone is set by our nervous system as a protective measure to avoid the body getting into a position that could cause injury. Often times the reason for this is that the brain interprets a position as being one that you either cannot get in or out of using your own muscular effort and so in attempt to save you from injury, it employs the stretch reflex to keep you from going there.
3. If You Are Going to Stretch, Make Sure That You Also Strengthen.
In my opinion, if you are active and you are stretching without strengthening, you are opening yourself up to injury. Stretching is a way for us to override this stretch reflex in attempt to give you more options to move from. If you bypass this protective mechanism without teaching that area of your body to absorb or create force, then your chance of injury goes up, especially if you are doing a high impact like surfing where the playing surface is always changing.