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The importance of training joints

Joints are often neglected by many of us and this is simply because we don’t know how to train and maintain them. Weak joints and lack of mobility in a joint can seriously impact our quality of life and restrict our movement. In this article, I’m going to explain how we can both increase mobility and strengthen a joint.

There are 3 main locations in our bodies that contribute to us being able to move well and they are:

  • The feet and ankles
  • The hips
  • The thoracic (lower) spine and shoulders

The first step in acquiring and maintaining functional mobility in a joint is to create some space within that joint. Let’s look at the ankle as an example, to begin with, we would get ourselves into a basic calf stretch position but add more support by placing two hands on a wall in front. This is very important to have the hands and feet supporting you as it creates four points of contact. It tells the brain that you are stable and safe and are not going to fall over or lose your balance, once the brain accepts and realises this it will allow the joint to be manoeuvred freely and give us greater potential for more space to be created rather than if we were unstable and the joint would stiffen and not give us as much potential for movement.

So once in that calf stretch position what we’re going to look to do is increase the range of motion within the ankle joint of the back foot. It is important that we target all planes of movement so that we give our ankle maximum mobility in every direction:

  • The frontal plane – Adduction and abduction, side to side e.g. Starjumps.
  • The sagittal plane – Flexion and extension, forwards and backward e.g. Walking
  • The transverse plane – Rotating, twisting e.g. Knee to elbow

To do this you would simply do 8-10 reps of that movement for example driving the knee down towards to the floor and then back up. Once you’ve done these reps you would then move side to side for 8-10 reps and finally, you would rotate 8-10 times. With each rep trying to go that bit further and create space for the ankle which increases its range of mobility.

 

Forwards and backwards

Side to side

 

Rotating

It is a common misconception that hinge joints are predominantly one dimensional in terms of planes of motion when new science has revealed to us that this isn’t the case at all. All joints are 3 dimensional and must be trained in all planes of motion to keep that joint healthy and strong and prevent degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.

 

By Matt Le Corre