Joint Health Checklist

Where's the user's guide for this body of ours?  

We've climbed to the top of the food chain, landed on the moon, and explored the depths of the ocean, all without a clear understanding of how to take care of our own bodies.  Low back pain continues to plague industrialized countries at rates higher than 70%, and athletes of all ages and ability suffer from knee & shoulder injury as a cost of entry.  What's going on here?

Confusing Movement & Exercise

A common fault in our modern mindset is to attempt to make up for 23 sedentary hours each day with 1 hour of high intensity exercise.  Here's some food for thought: humans are the only animal species that engages in this type of activity.  

Exercise is to movement as supplements are to nutrition.  A nice perk, but not something you can sustainably live on.  For full-spectrum health the human animal needs frequent movement.  But there's a catch.

Your Body Doesn't Work Like A Body

Our new normal is far from natural.  Lives spent hunched over screens lead to pretty predictable patterns of dysfunction in the body: hunched shoulders ("Upper Cross Syndrome"), weakened posterior chain (glutes, hammies, and the rest), compressed vertebrae.  Throw in collapsed arches and an utter lack of body awareness for good measure.

At this point your body likely doesn't function as a human body should.  Even the most avid "fitness enthusiasts" spend a disproportionate amount of time not moving.  Before jumping in to a new movement protocol, we need to establish some ground rules.

Prerequisites Are Prerequisites For A Reason

If your joints don't work like joints, loading them with extra weight is asking for injury.  Dr. Andreo Spina, creator of Functional Range Conditioning, defines injury as any time the force acting on a tissue exceeds that tissue's capacity.  Sounds reasonable to me.

With that in mind, why would you expect to be able to run if your feet don't have the capacity to accept and distribute force?  Why would you think to squat when your knees don't function like hinge joints?  The following checklist will provide a simple framework to restore & maintain function in the body's joints.

Your Checklist

-Do your joints work like joints?  Are ankles mobile, knees stable, and so on up the chain?

-Can you move through a full range of motion WITHOUT: load, momentum, pain, or holding your breath?  

-Can you load the movement and maintain integrity?  

If you checked off each item, keep doing what you're doing.  If you missed one, why on earth would you continue your training?  You simply can't build on top of dysfunction.  When the hardware (joints/tissues) doesn't work like hardware, the software (motor control) doesn't have a chance.  

You get one body.  Use it wisely.