By: Chris Litten
We live in an increasingly mobile society. Just think, a single individual can fly ½ way across the world, respond to 100 emails, check their bank balance, and secure a dinner reservation all within minutes of each other. When was the last time you heard someone mention anything about their telephone? That’s right, they no longer exist. We now carry “mobile devices”.
So, with all of this social mobility, financial mobility, and informational mobility it is clear that being mobile is highly prized. But, how important is our individual joint mobility? Too many people discount, or outright ignore, this crucial element of our physical fitness. Raw strength, speed, and stamina are all important, especially to weekend warriors or athletes, but it should be important to everyone. People of any age or fitness level need the ability to move their limbs and joints through their full range of motion as they are designed to do. That goes for grandparents, teens, and couch potatoes alike. Though not everyone will be lifting heavy weights or logging running miles, all need to thrive in our three-dimensional world.
The benefits of maintaining joint mobility are numerous. A mobile joint provides a platform from which proper lifting technique can be accomplished resulting in less premature joint degradation. Think back to a time when you may have injured your back reaching over to pick something up. Why did this happen? More often than not, the answer is quite simply a lack of hip or ankle mobility which in turn compromised your ability to bend down safely to retrieve whatever you were aiming to pick up.
Healthy joint mobility will also enhance our potential for producing force. Picture a rubber band pulled back all of the way. This represents the force production available when a joint has the right amount of mobility. The opposite is true for that same rubber band if it is barely tugged on. Given the world we live in, one of stairs, curbs, chairs and many other daily challenges to impaired joints, one can appreciate how valuable the usable strength that comes from having unimpaired joints can be.
Most importantly, maintaining adequate joint mobility keeps our joints healthy. Just as our bones and our muscles require physical stimuli, like load-bearing activities, to retain strength, density, and as a catalyst to positive structural changes, our joints require regular movement and usage to maintain health and mobility. Think of your joints as a hinge to a door, one that is never opened, never used, and subjected to steady environmental decay. That hinge is not going to work very well. It’s going to rust and it will creak and groan if you are even able to get it moving. Now imagine that same joint, used regularly, well taken care of, properly lubricated. Which one appeals more to you?
Our technologically mobile world is double-edged. It is becoming more and more difficult to remain physically mobile. We sit more and move less as a society than we ever have and it does not look like this is going to change any time soon. If we are to overcome the sedentary positioning of our society, we must remain diligent to maintaining our individual joint mobility.
Achieving joint mobility, fortunately, is largely within your control. For starters, stay active. By staying active you provide a platform from which your joints can continue to move in ways they are intended. A strong second to simply moving is to move in lots of different directions with intention each week. Let’s use the hip joint as an example of why this is so crucial to maintaining mobility. If you lie on your back and move your extended right leg you will note that it can move in lots of different directions. Given this, we must incorporate all of these various ranges of motion within our day, either in organized exercise, our activities of daily living, or some combination of the two. If we do not, our hip joint will become imbalanced in how it moves as muscles responsible for said patterns become weaker or stronger depending on the demand placed on them. Muscle imbalances lead to over-tight as well as overstretched muscles and tendons. This in turn contributes to decreased range of motion, changed mobility, at the hip. Visit the exercise of the month video below for some simple to replicate exercises to maintain your hip mobility.
Ross and Stephanie Henderson
Stephanie started working out with Mike at Body Basics in November, 2011. She first came as a referral from her physical therapist in order to continue to build strength and endurance, while managing her spinal stenosis. Shortly after beginning her training, Stephanie referred her husband, Ross to train with Mike as well. Ross was rehabbing from surgery to repair his meniscus, and a torn hamstring. Ross and Stephanie are both avid cyclists, and downhill skiers. Both are very dedicated to healthy living, staying active, and are always working hard while training at Body Basics. They will typically ride their bikes the 14 miles from home to workout, or ride home (mostly uphill) after their workout. This years’ El Tour de Tucson was their most recent accomplishment. They felt great after finishing the 60-mile route in about 3 hours, averaging 20 m.p.h. on their tandem bike. Aside from a brief challenge with pneumonia last summer that sidelined Stephanie, both have been consistent, hard workers, always looking for ways to live healthier, and improve their cycling strength and skill.
Great job, you are both a pleasure to work with!!
Thank you to Joe Heater for his recent referral of Mike Morse. Additional special thanks for swapping out his prize for an equivalent donation to our current shoe drive plus more that he included of his own accord. We greatly appreciate it.
For the third year BodyBasics is participating in The Interfaith Community Services, (ICS) Gifts of Love program. This program is a way to match families in need with donors and groups (faith communities, schools, businesses, civic organizations) who are willing to help meet seasonal needs.
Examples of Gifts of Love support include holiday gifts and clothes, school supplies, and summer camp registrations. The benefit of working with ICS in this program is that each family in need has already been screened and has received services from ICS. The holidays are an especially challenging time for the Pima County families who turn to ICS for help. As you prepare for your holiday celebration, please consider helping BodyBasics with the Ayala family who does not have the resources to buy clothes or gifts. Last year ICS Gift of Love program helped 81 families have a happier holiday thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
Colin and Crystal of the Ayala family have been struggling since September to meet basic needs when Colin lost his job due to illness. Colin suffered from an infection in his leg which required surgery and resulted in him losing his job after all his sick time was used. At that time, Crystal was a stay at home mom and not working. Within just a few weeks of no income they found themselves behind on utility expenses, rent and food. Good news, Crystal recently started working and they are playing catch up on past due bills which are taking all the income she is earning.
Given all the income is going out to pay past due bills there is little to nothing left for creating a fun holiday for their three kids. Daughter Alezeah is 9 and loves Country Music, iCarly, coloring and chapter books. Son Colin is 4 and as Crystal noted is the wild one in the family always keeping her on her toes! He enjoys cars and Lego’s, puzzles and books. Daughter Annabella is just 1 and is exploring new things every day. She loves push toys, ones with sound and those geared toward learning.
Help us make this holiday special for this family in need
Amber, Nick, Maureen, Chris, Kris, Mike & Amelia