Imagine our bodies to be similar to trees with nothing to move but just mere flesh, we would just be at one place and that would totally suck. So basically what helps us move?
Most of us know we have 206 bones, but did you know we had 360 joints! So what strikes is how many joints do we move everyday? Probably the number of our fingers?!
According to research, a healthy individual could move only around 230 joints. Ideally this is how many parts and pieces we would feel moving around in our body when we walk, move and breathe. Amazing fact right!
We usually move our neck, shoulder and knees during our daily routine but is that good enough? How mindful are we with the movement and its effects on the joint?
We all have read and been told that exercise is healthy. Exercises are considered rightly done only if the range of movement is free and unrestricted, so in a way the flexibility of the joints reflects the effect of an exercise.
Before discussing the importance of joint health in relation to exercise and the amazing effects on our body, it is important to know what exactly most joints are made of:
The image on the left is of a joint (eg. Knee joint), it is just not made up of bones and some covering which has fluid acting as a lubricant. If we clearly see there is cartilage which acts like a padding, ligaments which keeps the joints together passively and most importantly the muscles to keep them stable actively. And many other tissues beyond the scope of discussion.
So when someone mentions about joint pain, it is just never the bones getting degenerated but also the other important tissues which are inflamed and injured, thereby causing restriction in the movement and giving pain. The image on the right typically is how arthritis occurs, just NOT bones getting eroded.
So how does joint movement benefit us:
· Synovial fluid lubricates the joint, which acts like oil in an engine allowing the body to move smoothly and nourishing the joint.
· Strengthens tissues like muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints, which act like a brace to the joint and takes up the load of the body.
· Enhances joint sense (proprioception)- understanding the position and pressure forces on the joints while doing activities.
For optimal joint health all our joints need ‘Movement’. If you immobilize an area of the body for a long time that’s when it starts to dysfunction. If the joints like spine, knee, wrist etc. aren’t moving properly the synovial fluid becomes sluggish, tissues no longer support them, joint sensors switch off and in few weeks degeneration can take place slowly causing long term damage for which people usually visit the doctors and get diagnosed to have arthritis. That’s a bit scary to know right?
We can always avoid such situations by just doing few simple things. Wake up first thing in the morning and notice how your joints feel, like are they sore, stiff or swollen. Divide the body into three parts and move them, keeping in mind if the movement is free and if u feel pain etc.
Upper body- Shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers.
Spine- Neck, midback, lowerback, pelvis.
Lower body- Hip, knee, ankle, toes.
The key to bone health is stressing and challenging them. That is what stimulates them to grow stronger, healthier and keep moving. It’s a myth to have this assumption that arthritis or joint degeneration is hereditary. There is always a way to avoid if we are aware of one’s health. Pain is an indicator for something not right, do not ignore them.Perhaps we should start treating our body like a car which needs to be driven often for better functioning and also needs repair and regular servicing.
It is best to combine exercises so that different joints are moving there by challenging them to become healthier and stronger.So get up and get moving to improve your joint health today. If u did not know- ‘sitting is the new smoking!’ Move often throughout the day. Even a smallest activity done regularly can make a difference to your health.
Do not ignore signs of stress and pain in your joints. To phrase it- Talk to(move) your joints and keep them healthy and active.If u feel that the joint feels unusual, always check with a physiotherapist for a better understanding of joint movement and exercises related to your body.
Also I have put few pictographs of movement for better understanding of joint exercises below. Go ahead and give it a try!
STAY FIT, STAY HEALTHY!👏
If still unsure on how to go about these exercises and for personalized exercise videos, drop a mail at [email protected]
Originally published at medium.com