Does the way you move, your posture affect your joints?
The first keystone habit of healthy joints is movement quality, your posture, alignment and technique.
There is a principle in exercise physiology called Wolf’s Law…cool name eh, which states
“The body will adapt to the forces applied to it”
This means that the way we navigate our bodies in space will directly affect how our bodies adapt to that movement. So if you move poorly, with bad posture, poor joint alignment and exercise techniques chances are your body will not adapt favourably over time to those loads.
Movement quality matters
Also the load frequency, duration, and intensity matters
For example its been shown that for runners the best type of footwear isn’t the ones with the best shock absorbing, latex stretching, pronation controlling inner heels.
Its weather the shoe feels comfortable
Translation, the big shoe companies are making a lot of money selling stuff to runners that probably really don’t matter.
Shoe comfort and a well designed pregressive running program are the two best areas to pay attention to for all my running friends out there.
Let’s look at resistance training, lifting weights to create a change in the body tissues, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue and fascia. Each of these tissue types respond differently to exercises, and adapt at different rates. For example muscle change pretty fast, your biceps will start to pop in a few weeks of mirror curls. However the biceps tendons take about ten times longer to adapt, so we need to allow time for the biceps to catch up. This is often where plateaus come from, the body is waiting for other structures to adapt, get stronger before leveling up. This is a super intelligent system, because even though the muscle can handle more force, the tendon can’t, so the body essentially regulates how much you can do. When folks try to push past this, is where injuries can happen.
This also works in the reverse
If you are not using muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartlidge, if they are not being loaded, or used, then the body basically will use its precious resources elsewhere, (muscles is expensive to maintain metabolically), resulting in your muscles and joints getting weaker, smaller, and less resilient.
Or, you simply get weaker, and frail
Being weak and frail is a pretty big risk to injury. If you’ve been sedentary for many years, with poor posture, sitting on your but playing video games, watching netflix or cruisin you tube for 8 hours a day, your body will adapt to those poor positions
Bend over to pick a pen off the floor and your back goes out
Squat down to grab that bottle of milk from the bottom shelf at the supermarket and your knee goes pop
Reach over your shoulder to grab the seat belt and your neck jams up
Get up out of bed and it takes you 20 minutes to iron out the stiffness in your lower back
Elevator is out of action so you have to take the stairs, but have to stop half way to catch your breathe
These are all examples of the body adapting to your current movement habits. If you don’t have an exercise practice, then you are setting yourself up for some trouble. It may not happen quickly, but over time you will notice that you have to start to plan what used to be easy daily tasks
If i go for a walk, will my hips hurt the rest of the day
If I do too much lifting at work, will my back be OK for the weekend, don’t want to be laid up on the couch because I tweaked it again
I’d love to do that fun run with my daughter, but my dodgy knee won’t let me
Its when your joint pain stops you from doing things you really want to do that most folks seek out help. Pain is a big motivator, and it sucks to be in pain, especially if its been there for a long time.
So here’s the good news
The majority of joint pain problems respond really well to exercise
In fact, in a HUGE study on back pain last year the authors found that the two best things someone can do for lower back pain was psychology and exercise
Mindest and movement
Exercise helps build great psychological habits, a powerful mindset drives great exercise habits. The two are so closely linked I could write a whole blog post on it..which I probably will
The key to using exercise to move well, develop awesome posture and reduce your joint pain is to work with a good coach who can teach you how to do it safely.
Now as an Exercise hysiologsit im certainly going to recommend working with one, heck we go to university for 4-5 years to learn how to assess, prescribe and coach exercise for folks just like you. However you could also start with a great yoga or pilates instructor, a personal trainer who appreciates movement quality, or our allied health partner in movement, physiotherapists.
The key is to find a Movement professional who has solid experience, understands your specific needs, and you feel you can work with.
Invest your time and money in hiring a great movement coach to help you. Consider the real value in being able to move pain free before you balk at the cost of an exercise coaching session. When you consider the cost of medication, specialists vists, potential orthopedic surgeries and procedures, time off work, versus the cost of a 3- 6 month exercise program, that once you complete, you will have that skill set of moving well for the rest of your life, is a cost that when put into perspective will seem like an absolute bargin.