The training needs of joints – tips to prevent injuries
Based on Michael Boyle’s article
The strength training programs of bodybuilding and generally most sports are still divided by muscle groups. For example, the muscle groups for training are: chest-back for the first day, then shoulder-arm, and legs-abs for the third day. An approach based on movement types is somewhat more modern – for example, it treats a deadlift as a complex hip tensioner movement which affects the whole back movement chain.
The physiotherapist Gray Cook, went even further and considers a joint to joint approach as the training philosophy of the future. According to his vision, we shouldn’t train according to muscle groups but must do so by the functions of the joints. He also highlighted that one group of joints need mobility while others need stability.
According to Cook, the body can be thought of as a bunch of joints. Every joint or joint-line has a specific function and at the same time is prone to a specific, predictable dysfunction. Accordingly, every joint has a specific training need.
The training needs of joints
Ankle: mobility (sagittal direction – out from the plane, so back and forth)
Hips: mobility (in several planes)
Lumbar spine: stability
Back spine: mobility
The first thing that can be noticed in the table is that the joints alternate between needing mobility and needing stability. Ankles need increased mobility while the knees need greater stability. Healthy hips must be mobile, and so on, alternately.
Preventing joint injuries
Injuries are closely related to the function of the joint, more precisely to the dysfunction of the joint. A problem arising in a joint normally emerges as a pain above or below the joint. The best example is the lower back. According to scientific progress over the past decade, it is clear that the torso needs stability. It is also obvious that many people suffer from lower back pain. The interesting thing is in the theory that explains the reason for lower back pain.
According to Cook, pain is caused by the loss of mobility in the hips. The dysfunction in the joint below the affected joint (in this case the hips) generates a problem in the joint above, so in this case in the lumbar spine. In other words, if the hips can’t move then the lumbar spine will take its place.
The problem is that the hips were designed to be mobile and the lumbar spine to be stable. When a joint designed for mobility becomes immobile then the joint designed to be stable has to move more to compensate, so it will become less stable and be painful. It’s like moving a component that was designed to be rigid. After a time it wears out, then it breaks, so the whole thing’s ruined. It would be the same with the joints used with opposite functions.
The process is simple:
- Lose the mobility in your ankle then you get knee pain.
- Lose the mobility of hips then you get lower back pain.
- Lose the mobility in your spine and you get neck and shoulder pain (or lower back problems).
The most frequent joint problems
If we think about it, these connections make very good sense. The insufficiently mobile ankle will pass on the stress (for example, landing after a jump) to the joint above, which is the knee. Moreover, according to the experts, there’s a direct connection between the stiffness of basketball shoes, the ankle bandaging, use of any kind of stabilizing devices and the frequency of kneecap pain among basketball players.
The effort to protect an unstable ankle has a high cost. Our athletes with knee pain have ankle mobility problems, which are many times caused by an ankle sprain and, in such cases, the use of bandaging and braces.
The hips are an interesting case because they can be immobile and unstable too. The result of the instability is knee pain, because a weak hip allows the thighbone to rotate inward and converge inwards. Insufficient mobility can result in back pain.
The hip joint’s problem creates a vicious circle. As the spine is forced to compensate for the weakness and immobility of the hips, then the hips lose even more from these qualities. We can say that the lack of power in the hips leads to immobility, and the immobility results in compensatory spinal movements.
The lumbar spine is a joint section that needs stability. From this point of view, it would be a mistake if you perform twist exercises for all the lumbar spine parts. Experts such as Sahrmann, Porterfield and DeRosa propose that we shouldn’t increase the range of motion in the lumbar spine because it is potentially dangerous.
The spine is the area we know the least about. Many physiotherapists suggest increasing agility in this section but few can demonstrate exercises that specifically affect it.
Shoulders are designed for great mobility and we need to train them for stability. This gives a good reason to work with a fitness ball, do push-ups with a BOSU fitness trainer and do some one-handed weight exercises.
What can we do for our joints?
In summary, dysfunction of a joint puts an increased load onto the joints above or below the given joint. If one of the joints is painful, it could indicate dysfunction in one of the neighbouring joints. For example, freezing the knees without examine the ankles or hips is not the right approach. Using painkillers also not so considered to be the appropriate treatment. Pain is a signal, like the siren that warns us of a fire or another problem. Switching off the alarm doesn’t solve the problem.
However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t support the health of our joints in other ways. Besides recovering the mobility and stability of the joints, it’s important to pay attention to the “lubrication” of the joints as well. Joints aren’t the usual thing to think about, not like muscles, which we feed regularly with different amino acid products and protein powders. But joints also have a metabolism and with this, nutritional requirements as well. Starve the joints and they will easily go wrong – but feed them and they will be healthy for a long time. For this purpose, it is recommended to athletes that they consume a complex joint protector – like Joint-X – even though they do not suffer from joint problems.
Joint-X is a complex formula with four components that is based on traditional active substances that have already passed the tests of science and practice. The glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM active substance trio is popular in the world of joint support supplements. And they deserve it. Their popularity is because of the very good experience confirmed by thousands of customers.
Remember: What is the protein for muscles is the joint protector for joints!
Use the joints according to their function and feed them with the most useful nutrients – this way you can avoid joint problems for a long time!
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