Joint by Joint

On Monday I had published a blog called, Are You Flexible Enough?, and I have received a few questions regarding the Joint by Joint approach brought about by Mr Gray Cook and Mr Mike Boyle (there is no way I can take credit for coming up with this brilliant, yet simple point of view).  So, I am here today to give an easy translation to this way of thinking.  First, let’s review the Joint by Joint set-up:

 Joint — Primary Need

Ankle — Mobility (sagittal)

Knee — Stability

Hip — Mobility (multi-planar)

Lumbar Spine — Stability

Thoracic Spine — Mobility

Scapula — Stability

Gleno-humeral (shoulder socket) — Mobility

What this really reminds me of is the ‘Skeleton Song’ … make sure to have small children around if you watch this YouTube video!

But there is so much truth in this thought process and that is what the Joint by Joint offers!  My next blog will be dedicated to what stability actually is (and isn’t), but for the time being, I will look at this from a mobility point of view – because you read that blog all ready, didn’t you?

Picture this:

You have worked in an office for X amount of years sitting and typing, sitting and typing, sitting and typing.  Tell me, how is your posture?  Now wait, before you get all bent out of shape (literally), how do you commute to work?  Sitting in a vehicle?  What is your favorite past-time when you get home from work?  Does it include sitting in a chair?  When you mow your lawn – rider or walker?  Tell me, when you go to the gym to get your 30 minutes of physical activity – what percentage of it is done … sitting?  I hope by now you get where I am going with this; if not, please read this blog.

Let’s look at this from the two joints that are supposed to provide your body with ample mobility – the hips and thoracic spine.  When you sit for a ridiculous amount of time in your life – usually this starts occurring around the year 25 – you begin to lose mobility in your hips.  Well, what do you think will happen to the rest of your body?  It has to begin compensating for such a loss, not good!  One of the first joints that will start taking over for this mobile loss is the lumbar spine (a particularly stable joint).  Your body will call upon ol’ lumbar to pick up the slack of the hips by becoming more mobile.  It may not occur in the beginning, BUT as your body continues calling on this unnatural mobility, it will ask the thoracic spine (a mobile joint) to offer stability.  AND the scapula is starting to lose its stability position because its making up for your rounded shoulders that are starting to become less and less mobile because you are so concerned with everything that is happening in front of you: TV, computer screen, mobile device, etc.  Your body is starting to depend on these compensations full-time, building a house of cards by relying on dysfunctional movement patterns.

For awhile, you survive daily activities and may grumble due to an annoying pain here and there, but one day – BOOM!  The final straw broke the camel’s back – actually your back … and you are incapacitated because of this excruciating low back pain you are experiencing.  All you did was attempt to pick up a pencil off of the floor, a pencil!  And this happens?  How?  Why?  When a joint loses its ability to do what it is supposed to do because of your lifestyle habits, another joint is going to take a beating for it and it will continue creeping up (or down) the chain until you properly correct it – or it properly says, ‘No More!’  The good news is that it’s never too late to start correcting such dysfunctions – but traditional exercise will not necessarily help (it may actually cause the compensations to become worse)!  Improving your physical fitness through natural movements is the sure-fire way to correct your joint identity crisis not only effectively, but efficiently, as well.  I suggest to first consult with a certified member of the Functional Movement Screen (me, maybe?) and find out where the weakest link in your movement chain is before anything else!  After that, you will burn calories, you will get defined arms, you will get your core workout – all while you move naturally!  Spending so much energy trying to eat clean will not get you far if you aren’t moving clean … now get after it!