Maintaining flexibility and stability in your joints

Personal Wellness with Cheryl Jeane

Personal Wellness with Cheryl Jeane

Our bodies are awesome at adapting and doing what needs to be done when we ask them to.  How flexible are you?  And are you flexible in the areas necessary for function?

For example:  have you noticed how many people walk differently?  Some more on their toes, and they seem to “spring” some with their feet (or one foot) rotated out, etc.  When we go to walk, what our brain tells our body is to get from point A to point B.  Typically we put one foot in front of the other to propel ourselves forward, and we get there.

However, if you have tightness in your calves, the motion can’t come from there, so it puts more pressure on your knees.  If our hips are tight, the motion can‘t come from there, and it puts more pressure on our backs. (That could be one reason why your back gets tired or sore when you are shopping unless you lean on a cart).

Our bodies are designed for the ankles to be flexible, the knees stable, the hips flexible, the lumbar spine stable, the thoracic spine flexible, shoulder girdles stable, and the cervical spine flexible.  Our bodies are also designed, like machines, to be symmetrical to work the most efficiently.

The spine is designed similar to a spring, to help decrease force  from movement.  As different muscles get tight (usually due to a prolonged posture – if it is static, like sitting or standing, or dynamic such as a repetitive movement), it pulls on your body in different directions, and it can’t move smoothly.

When it doesn’t move smoothly or in the way the joint was built to be used, then more wear and tear occurs and you start having pain.  If the pain is ignored long enough, it can cause something to tear (in the knee –  meniscus, ACL, etc., or, in the spine – a “slipped” disc,  or a pulled muscle, etc.).

Typically, people hurt or are injured in the hips and low back and neck because those areas are supposed to be stable, but because the other areas are too tight, they move too much, therefore causing breakdowns to occur.

When you loosen the tight muscles around the area that is not moving, and tighten/strengthen the weak muscles, it allows the joints to move in a much more mechanically advantaged state.  This decreases wear and tear on the joints, and can even help if there is already wear and tear (arthritis). With the joint moving with less abnormal stresses, it can decrease inflammation, improve function and decrease pain.

Loosening of tight muscles and strengthening of weak muscles can be accomplished through appropriate exercise and therapy.

Dr. Cheryl Jeane is a physical therapist with 21 years of experience and treats patients at Triton Health Care on Florida Blvd. in Denham Springs.