Joint Safety – Why it’s important and how you can promote it
September 26, 2022
Dr. Kristi Fata
Exercising to preserve your joints might sound a bit boring, but it is something that must be taken into consideration in order to remain healthy, to stay strong and continue doing all of the things that you love.
As a physical therapist, I spend the majority of my day breaking down how my clients move and working to understand why they are in pain doing a given movement. Often, it is due to a mobility restriction or strength deficit somewhere within the body. Pain occurs when that said restriction or deficit persists, which allows our body to compensate and learn to utilize that compensation to function. Our bodies are smart – they adapt to what they sense and what is most efficient in their current state.
Think about it like this: when you are dehydrated your body will do anything to preserve the amount of fluid in your system. The same goes for the musculoskeletal system. When one area of the body is not moving as effectively as it could, another area of the body must pick that up. The same goes for strength deficits, if your hamstrings are not strong enough to perform a specific task, another area of the body is going to pick up that slack so that you can complete the task in front of you. When this occurs, extra stress is put on the body’s joints – the passive form of stability – rather than your muscles.
Let’s look at an example. Low back pain, the most common site of pain, affects 8 out of every 10 people you come into contact with. The spine is connected directly to the pelvis, which is directly connected to the hips. Therefore when someone is experiencing back pain, not only do we look at the back, we also look at the hip, pelvis, knee, and up the trunk. Oftentimes, back pain comes from a lack of mobility and/or strength at the hip. With this specific scenario in mind, if the hip is not moving or functioning effectively, the next closest joint to take on that movement is the low back. BOOM, the back starts moving more than it should, starts functioning hard to pick things up, stabilizes at the pelvis, and performs your daily tasks, all resulting in an increased amount of stress at the back, and ultimately resulting in pain.
Because of this, we must think about preserving joint integrity and performing exercises that allow our joints to stay safe and healthy. Here are 3 of my favorite ways to preserve joint integrity, in a safe and exciting way.
Arena Training System – an exciting, portable, cable system that allows you to train in 100’s of ways. The coolest thing about this is you get to change the resistance on the system with a tap of a finger. It allows you to alter the resistance in a safe way, slowly progressing without the need for free weights. The resistance technology gives you the ability to strengthen isometrically, concentrically and eccentrically, to truly strengthen in the most effective way. The technology behind the system forces more muscle recruitment than your typical training to allow for more efficient strengthening of those muscles that need to function to keep the joints safe. The stronger the dynamic system of the body (aka the muscles) the stronger the passive system of the body (the joints and ligaments).
Kettlebell Training – another great form of resistance training to use in conjunction with the ARENA. Kettlebells are a safe form of free weights, that when learned properly, force you to use near perfect form during your movements. The typical KB skills force you to exude strength and power and are a bit more technical, so make sure you find yourself a good coach!
Find a physical therapist or strength coach who gets it – invest in yourself. Find someone who can help you determine where your pain or discomfort might be coming from. Find someone who will help you preserve your joint integrity and stay safe while exercising. And find someone who will help you train effectively, to remain strong, fun, young, and of course, to continue doing the things that you LOVE.
If you’re in the New York area and interested in working with Dr. Kristi Fata or another highly qualified physical therapist, contact Moment PTP.