Our joints work together to make a movement more efficient
Joints connect bone to bone that work together to allow functional movement patterns in which we perform on a daily basis. This is the kinetic chain. When one part of the chain is not moving efficiently, other parts of the chains are affected. Thus, throwing off our movement patterns. For instance, when we have back pain, it rarely is an issue originating from the back. It is more so from a tightness or limited range of motion in regions above and below (lack of hip or mid-back rotation capability).
Gray Cook, Strength and Conditioning Specialist and founder of Functional Movement Systems, says “Low back pain is a symptom—not a diagnosis.”
In the human body we have 10 main regions where we get a lot of our day to day movement. If we think about it, the human body is made of alternating layers of mobile and stable joints. Mobile joints allow the body to move easily and freely (hip, ankle, shoulder, and mid-back). Stable joints give the ability to maintain posture during any movement (lower back, knee, foot, or neck). See the image below for a joint-by-joint approach to each joint.
Let’s go further into how these joints affect the efficiency of our everyday movement patterns. If tightness occurs in one part of our body, this will affect movement in other parts of our body. Let’s take squatting as an example. Having limited range of motion at the hip and/or the ankle (mobile joints) and unstable at the knee and lower back (stable joints) will limit the movement all together with limited range and poor posture. Thus, throwing off the success of the full movement pattern of the squat. Do you notice that your knees cave, or the limited range of motion of your hips/ankles disable you to get low into your squat? These are all signs of joint limitations keeping you from a successful squat movement.
One must regress and focus on their mobility, range of motion, or movement correction at those joints to accomplish the patterns that work together as a whole. If we were to continue to squat without attacking these, what could be temporary deficiencies, we allow other compensations and injuries to those weak joints and muscles. As fitness professionals, we would plan your specific program by addressing each joint separately, from which we know is more important to the specific movement pattern. The good news is that this will not only allow better efficiency to a particular movement, but can also improve other movements as well.
Myofascial release, mobility exercises, flexibility exercises, and movement correction are all ways that movement patterns can be improved. Myofascial release involves foam rolling or rolling with a massage ball. This technique involves applying gentle pressure to your connective tissue to eliminate pain and restore pressure. Mobility exercises serve a purpose to increase range of motion to those joints and muscles. They can also improve posture and body awareness. Yoga as a form of mobility practice is a great way that takes your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. Flexibility exercises, like your hamstring stretch or any static stretch, also increase range of motion to enable more strength and physical stress to muscles and joints. Lastly, correctional movement patterns help the body learn to use the right muscles at the right time of the movement. This may involve the bird/dog exercise for core stabilization or a single leg lift for hip mobilization.
When the joints within the kinetic chain lose their primary role due to dysfunction and change roles, human movement becomes compromised and the chance of injury increases significantly.
To learn more or to receive one-on-one support to improve your movement patterns, please contact the COHO Fitness Team. Thank you!