Movement Balance for Longevity

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

Movement is necessary to participate in any and all activities whether small or large. It is a combination of voluntary and involuntary neuromuscular activities occurring behind the scenes in order to execute the desired movement properly.

The combination of the muscular and nervous systems working together is key to proper execution. In addition, the bony framework creates different types of joints that, depending upon alignment, contribute to the smoothness of a particular motion being executed.

Some people have normal range of motion in their joints while others have either hyper- or hypomobility. When executing a movement, these considerations should be considered if they are known.

Normal joint motion combined with balanced muscles on both sides of the joints allow for an exercise program to be performed where you get out of the program what you put in. In other words, working hard on strength, endurance and toning can have great results without putting too much strain on the joints.

In fact, studies are now showing that if you look at your muscles while strengthening them and you also engage by picturing these muscles contract inside, improved tone and strength will occur over time.

A joint that is hypomobile does not work the same. Hypomobile joints are more compressed in certain positions. Sometimes there is less blood flow to these joints and thus less nutritive help to keep the joint healthy and working for you.

When muscles pull on the bones to create movement, the joint can be compressed more in certain areas. Keeping the muscles flexible and having good extensibility will help to not overly compress the joints further but when participating in an exercise program, proper positioning is key.

You want to strain the muscles enough to get results but do not want to strain the joints involved. Straining the joints may lead to excessive compression, increased wear and tear, and arthritis breakdown (osteoarthritis). Those who have hypomobility must consider getting a professional to help free up a joint to function more normally. If this cannot be done, getting surrounding joints to coordinate and help assist in a movement can help avoid breakdown as long as it does not then overly stress other joints.

Hypermobile joints allow excess motion. This motion is not always good for the joints. They depend upon a lot of help from the ligaments surrounding the joints in conjunction with muscular reinforcement. Thus, having strong muscles that coordinate to combine movement with stability for hypermobile joints is extremely important.

To explain further, let’s look at an example of a golfer and the importance of the hips and spine. In a normal golf swing, the golfer has good flexibility. It becomes evident with smooth and coordinated shoulder motion along with segmental spinal mobility from the neck through the low back and then into the hips and lower extremities allow for the perfect swing. With this type of body structure, the club speed can improve with less chance of putting excessive strain on the body.

If someone has hypomobility in the spine, a smooth coordinated movement cannot occur as in the body that has normal joints and muscular coordination. These people tend overtime to get unwanted stresses and strains. The result can be too much compression, a wilder swing, and joint or muscle injuries can occur.

In the case of hypomobility, another level in the spine that was working more normally will become overused and create extra motion over time to help accommodate for the execution of the golf swing. This goes undetected most of the time, but controlling the excessive motion will be necessary so that joints will not breakdown and eventually cause pain and dysfunction.

If the spine or hips have limitations in motion then there may need to be accommodations for that. The compressive forces generated need to be shared through the joints to avoid significant breakdown in the joints or avoid muscular and ligamentous injury.

Knowing the range of motion the body has and if normal joints and muscle flexibility and appropriate muscle strength are available will help to avoid injuries. Unfortunately, many have issues that are not yet detected because usually the only deterrent in participating in any activity is PAIN.

Be proactive and understand your specific body and what it can do. You can learn what is best for the body and how to accommodate for your body’s tightnesses and or laxities.

Here’s To Your Healfh!

Find that professional that understands the body fully and help to guide you to your longevity in activities. Exercise smart and undo excessive strains. For further information, please call Fitness Together in downtown Naples at (239) 263-9348.

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