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A Joint Affair
Could this be the missing link in your fitness programme?
Something we rarely think about when we’re younger, is being able to spring out of bed in the morning without aching, balance on one leg without falling over, putting our trousers on without having to hold onto a support, or bending down easily to pick up something! As we age (if we allow it), all these seemingly simple movements will become more difficult to perform if you do not take action. And ….it’s never too late to start! In fact I wish I had known about joint mobility in my twenties – so for those of you spring chickens please take note!
Sitting at a desk while hunched over a computer will cause a plethora of imbalances and continual pain from hunched shoulders and a curved thoracic spine (kyphosis), to shortened hamstrings and hip flexors. If we look at our anscestors, this is not how we’re meant to be. We were designed to run, jump, leap, reach upwards, backwards, bend down quickly, twist etc etc. And yet nowadays so many of us sit at a desk hunched over a computer, stand up from our desk and walk forwards, meaning our bodies are in a constant state of flexion with very little extension. This is one of the most profound ways in which ageing presents itself.
THE JOINT CONNECTION
A joint is the connection between two bones. Joints and their surrounding structures allow you to bend your elbows and knees, wiggle your hips, bend your back, turn your head and freely move you fingers. Cartilage, synovium and a lubricant called synovial fluid cushion the joints so bones do not rub together. As we age, injury, or carrying too much weight can wear and tear your cartilage and this can damage your joints and even lead to arthritis.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR JOINTS
Losing weight reduces pressure on your knees, hips and back and helps prevent joint injury. According to research, with every pound gained, a person puts four times more stress on the knees!!
Strong muscles support your joints, and weight bearing exercise helps build muscle and keeps it and surrounding ligaments strong. That includes having a strong core (chest, back and abdominals) which will prevent your joints from having to do all the work.
Good posture is extremely important for healthy joints and standing and sitting up straight will protect your joints from your neck to your knees.
A healthy diet helps build strong bones and muscles too. Ensure you get enough calcium daily by eating broccoli, kale, milk, yoghurt, figs, or take a calcium supplement. Equally important, is to eat enough good quality protein – lean meat and fish, legumes, beans and nuts. Variety is key.
Ensure plenty of Vitamin D to keep bones and joints in good health. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium from the food you eat along with getting enough sunshine.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY …..
Personally, I’ve always been strong, fit and fairly flexible. There was, however, something lacking in my fitness regime! JOINT MOBILITY. And since regularly practising joint mobility my body is free of aches and recurring injuries. For the life of me I could not understand the persisting injury in my left hip. I now understand it was a lack of joint mobility.
A flexible person may not have the balance, core strength, or neuromuscular coordination to perform movements that a person with great mobility can. With this in mind, it’s better to be inflexible with good mobility than flexible with poor mobility. So having lean muscle on you is all well and good, but without adequate stretching and mobility work the tissue will shorten and the ability to move the respective joint through its range of motion under control will be compromised.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
For a remarkable impact on your well-being, I would suggest introducing a simple joint mobility routine. This will act as general maintenance for your body and keep those joints well oiled; just as a car needs oiling.
I love this part! Joint mobilisation is designed to relieve pain and muscle spasms, release tension and improve range of motion and flexibility in a joint. By regularly practicing joint mobility exercises you will be stimulating and circulating synovial fluid within the capsule, and actually “washing” the joint! In addition, you’ll be lubricating the moving parts and removing unwanted waste products. You’ll be totally revitalising your joints and preventing injury.
It literally takes no more than four minutes a day to move your joints through their full range of motion in a controlled manner. These exercises should be incorporated into your exercise programme every day. Do them on their own, or as part of a warm-up or even better, start your day with a joint mobility routine.
If you would like to do my mobility routine you can find it on the sudor.fit app.
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