WHAT IS A JOINT?
A Joint is a place where two bones connect to allow for movement in your body. Joints bend and also straighten your legs, arms, hips, back, neck, fingers, toes, jaw, shoulders and ankles. Joints allow us to do every type of task from the simple--waving--to the complex--Cat in the Hat balancing one-legged on a ball whilst balancing a cup and a cake and a fish and a rake on his head and hands...
We know what a joint looks like from the outside; just take a look at your elbow, your knee or finger.
But what does a joint look like from the inside?
It may look unfamiliar to you, but really this is your amazing anatomy! But what is equally or even more amazing is what your joints do for you, and without an actual blood supply of their own to help them heal and rebuild. Instead of blood, your joints, and the cartilage that cushions them, receive much of their nutrition from a liquid called synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is produced most effectively in joints that move. So (to crank on the biological gears of a well used cliche) if you don't use it, you loose it.
IS THAT A RUSTY DOOR OUR YOUR SHOULDER JOINT?
If you have a squeaky door in your house, what do you do? Give it some oil; some lubricant. And then you move it back and forth until the oil is fully in the door hinge and no longer squeaking…Synovial fluid is your natural joint oil. But what if the door is completely rusted shut?
Joints that don’t move much, or that have lost movement due to injury or lack of activity, act much like squeaky, or worse, rusted doors. They don’t make enough fluid. And that can lead to stiffness, inflammation, pain or further joint damage. And then you can’t do the things in life that you love or that need to be done.
But don’t fear! All that you have to do is move and your body makes its own WD-40 for your joints naturally! Let me show you how…
GETTING BENT BACK INTO SHAPE
Massage and Yoga are two examples of alternative therapies that can improve joint mobility. In massage, passive and active range of motion (ROM) of the joints and their surrounding soft tissue are a regular part of a knowledgable and interactive treatment. Movement on the massage table or the Thai Mat shows the client where some limbs , muscles, and their corresponding joints may be impinged (limited movement) and also helps to increase this range of motion for the client by retraining and releasing muscles, and interacting with the joints as well. More motion with less pain on the table equals more motion off the table. And therefore, more independent and strengthening motion in everyday tasks. And joints that move more, make more synovial fluid.
In Yoga, informed movement repetition with proper alignment in the joints gradually increases a person's range of motion as well. Clients learn the limits of their bodies through yoga postures that imitate common daily movements of their bodies--with great emphasis on proper alignment, as well as, not so common movements. A yoga student will quickly realize where a limit is within a joint or muscle. Yet, over time, this limitation will be surpassed. And over time, joints become more flexible. And the yoga student becomes more accustomed to engaging in a diverse array of new and healthy postures for their bodies both in an out of Yoga class. The joints become healthier through this informed and varied 360 degree motion education.
So, to bend your ear with a few more beloved, or at least well oiled cliches, don't get bent out of shape when your joints are aching. Even with conditions such as arthritis, rotator cuff injuries or tendonitis, gentle, comprehensive and informed joint motion will increase and maintain overall joint health. Use it, don't loose it. Get bent back into shape, one welcoming arm wave, one joyful thumbs up, one downward-facing dog pose at a time.