Joint pain is one of the most common ailments that individuals experience as they age. Lack of activity or too much activity without countering the effects of these can lead to dysfunction that determines the stability and mobility of the joint. If a joint moves poorly due to tightness of the connective tissue or inflexibility of the muscles that move it, it will lose its capacity to create fluidity of the body’s skeleton. We are intended to move using sequential patterns of muscle action for functional and athletic activities. When mobility is restricted, these normal patterns are interrupted and what replace them are compensations that are hard on the structure and can be a source of pain.
What is the solution to this aging issue? We can manage the change in function by performing exercises that mobilize the joints and improve the flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue. This allows a joint to move fluidly through its range of motion without undue pressure on anyone particular portion of it which can ultimately reduce the degree of wearing. Flexibility is as critical to the function of your joints as air is to the function of your lungs. Enabling the body to find correct movements by improving posture and flexibility is a long-term ticket to a healthy skeleton. Appropriate physical activity is essential to function.
The best way to identify your areas of tightness and mis-alignment is to be evaluated by a professional who understands postural position and movement patterns and will assess joint mobility and function. In addition to performing stretching and strengthening exercises, learning and maintaining good posture will support the balance of the muscles around the joints. When standing, the feet should be hip width and parallel to one another. Finding weighting in the ball of the big and little toe and center of the heel will help you evenly activate the muscles up the leg and position the pelvis properly. This should allow the hips to have a slight bend in them with the middle of the shoulders lined with center of the hips when looking at the profile. Finally, the middle of the ear should align with the shoulder with the gaze level. This is a neutral stance that you will not hold all of the time, but if you learn how to be stable here and improve flexibility, your movement quality will improve. And this translates to happier joints for life!