What moves you?

One of the interesting things about the joints of the body is that they alternate between areas of mobility and stability. The ankle needs increased mobility, and the knee needs increased stability. As we move up the body, it becomes apparent the hip needs mobility. And so the process goes up the chain:

Toes – Mobility

Mid foot –Stability

Ankle — Mobility

Knee — Stability

Hip — Mobility

Lumbar Spine — Stability

Thoracic Spine — Mobility

Lower Cervical Spine – Stability

Upper Cervical Spine – Mobility

Scapula — Stability

Gleno-humeral — Mobility

Elbow – Stability

Wrist – Mobility

Hand – Stability

Fingers – Mobility

Injuries tend to relate to joint function (and dysfuction).  If you have a problem in one joint the joints above and below are likely to compensate to let you move. For example, if you can’t move in the hips, your lumbar spine will compensate.  As you can see in the list above, the hips are meant to be mobile and the lumbar spine and knee should be stable, so if your hips can’t move, and the lumbar spine (or knee) will move more to get you into the position you want to be in and consequently become unstable.  Pain is not too far away.

So, what do we do about this?

Well, we can mobilise the joints that are meant to be mobile to enable adequate range of motion so that we can allow the stable joints to do their job and be stable.

Mobilisation can be distinguished from flexibility work:

Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to lengthen passively through a range of motion (ie, you don’t control the movement to the end range, you have it moved there) while mobilisation is about active movement through a functional range of motion (how you move your body during an actual movement).  It also involves a component of stability – keeping the stable joints stable while performing said movement with the mobile joints.

If you want to be more specific, Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD says joint mobilisation is “a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems”.  Yup, yup.

Anyway, there’s a few ways to mobilise including resistance band and soft tissue work.

Check out http://www.mobilitywod.com/ for mobilisations involving resistance bands, to provide distraction at a joint. This sort of stuff helps increase extensibility within a joint capsule by breaking up adhesions and/or stretching the capsule itself. Be cautious if you are experiencing pain or are prone to joint subluxations or dislocations (ie, if you are a particularly bendy person at the joints – you know who you are) or if you’re pregnant as the increased joint laxity can be an issue.

Soft tissue work is the stuff a massage therapist, physio, osteo etc does but you can also do this on your own.  Self-myofascial release (SMFR) or myofascial compression techniques (MCT) using foam rollers, massage sticks and balls is easy and commonly used in the gym.

I’ve been using Trigger Point Performance Therapy tools for MCT lately to great effect.  If you’re keen to get your own set check outhttp://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=611787&U=957293&M=53391&urllink=  and ship it to your NZ Post YouShop address.

If you would like to know more about moving more freely and how mobilisation techniques can help get in touch!