I studied with an osteopath who once told me, “Listen to your bones, for they will be here long after you’re gone.” There’s great wisdom in this advice.
What happens if you have a joint that doesn’t have its full capacity to function? What can you do if arthritis or osteoporosis is holding you back from improving the health of your shoulder, spine, hip, or ankle? Is this something you have to live with or is there something you can do about it?
To answer this, here's a brief refresher in human anatomy: Bones are hard tissues and have soft tissues inside them. Inside soft tissues is bone marrow, in which blood cells are produced in order to nourish the bones and joints. Outsides of bones are connective tissues like ligaments, which attach bones to other bones, and tendons, which affix muscles to bones. Tendons assist us in creating elastic, spring-like motions.
These structures are necessary for internal movement and healthy circulation. Having efficient fluid pathways assures healthy exchanges of oxygen, nerve conduction, and waste removal throughout parts of the body. Knowing this is crucial for improving the blood flow in aching or injured joints, which can calcify to the point of immobility without proper circulation.
Knowing how your body moves, bone by bone, and ligament by ligament, is necessary to improve how your joints function, feel, and perform in daily life. For example, knee pain could be a simple result of muscles not being able to decrease friction within a joint. So, as your personal trainer, I might explore if improving leg muscle function and tissue quality decreases your knee pain.
Studies show the body is incredibly resilient at self-healing, yet in modern society, we face more and more degenerative diseases. For instance, walking: Just because we walk does not mean that the quad, hamstrings, abdominals, or several other muscles perform to their full potential. In order to truly ‘activate’ a muscle, it has to use the full length of its muscle fibers.
Also in that example, just because we walk it does not mean the ankle visits its full ranges of motion desired for healthy ankle functioning. More anatomy: Your ankle doesn’t necessarily reach pronation and supination fully, your tibia and hip may not internally and externally rotate, or maybe your pelvis doesn’t shift from one leg to the other. If these joint actions do not occur, then the muscles that create the motion do not engage.
What to do? The truth is, you can’t simply exercise your way into a healthy functioning joint. It’s more complex than that.
We have over 650 muscles, 350 joints, and 220 bones. We are working against years of inefficient postures, life traumas, movement habits, and mental experiences which directly affect how our bones and joints operate. It would be too simple, and too lazy, to think my shoulder may be “fixed” doing more exercise. This can only happen through intelligent, deliberate, and intentional movements tailored to where your shoulder is and how it is moving. (Not Becky’s, not Mark’s, your shoulder.)
If you don’t use it, you lose it. When was the last time you moved your scapula bone (shoulder blade) four different ways in three different dimensions? How about your pelvis? There are so many ways to move our joints and our bones, and if we give them more options, more possibilities, then our brain receives information about a body part which hasn’t moved in five years. This information can help change our physiology.
If you would like healthy circulation, stronger joints, and more awareness of how to move your body in useful ways in everyday life, it starts with listening to your bones, the parts of you that will be around well after you’re gone.
Rob Stephenson, a personal trainer who specializes in biomechanics, believes restoring balance and optimal functioning resides in improving how joints move relative to one another. Work with Rob to help meet any of your health and self-care goals.
Contact Rob HERE.