Your Body Is A Puzzle: The Joint-By-Joint Approach
The joint by joint approach has been growing in both the clinical and conditioning fields, yet still not widely adopted. Human mechanics are systemic in nature and thus our approach to optimal health should be as well. Thus, understanding how one joint affects another is of great importance in any health and wellness field, because it requires you to map the whole body and to see it as a sum of all parts. Much like a puzzle, each joint is it’s own piece, but without the rest of the pieces the puzzle doesn’t work.
Over the course of our evolution, with the invention of the “chair,” and a amore sedentary lifestyle our modern bodies have started developing tendencies for dysfunction. In essence, our mechanics are de evolving and we must pay close attention to the warning signs. Those of us who are sedentary, as well as those of us who are active, seem to migrate to a group of similar mobility and stability problems. We can clearly see certain demographics showcase similar dysfunction and compensation, as a general overview of the population. Of course you will find exceptions, we each have our own unique mechanics and coping strategies, but the more I work in corrective exercise and rehabilitation, the more I see these common tendencies, patterns and problems. Moreover, I see the growing need to educate clients and coaches on the joint by joint model.
The point in the joint-by-joint approach is not so much the 10 Commandments of Mobility and Stability, as Gray Cook mentions here: Make the ankle mobile. Make the knee stable. Make the hip mobile. Make the low back stable. It’s more about understanding the relationship of what is mobile, what is stable, what needs or lacks motor control and how deficiencies in one, effects the other. These words that we through around in corrective intervention; like mobility or stability is define a segment of the body that should be moving better or have more control. The whole point is to practice with a systemic approach to clear the joints above and below the one with the problem, so that the problem joint can now explore new range or degree of freedom of movement, or “turn on” inactive or inhibited tissue to improve mechanics.
A quick summary from Gray Cooks blog article called “Expanding on the Joint-by-Joint Approach” offers the reader a general overview of the mechanics from bottom to top, feet to head:
1. The foot has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. We can blame poor footwear, weak feet and exercises that neglect the foot, but the point is that the majority of our feet could be more stable.
2. The ankle has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility. This is particularly evident in the common tendency toward dorsiflexion limitation.
3. The knee has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. This tendency usually predates knee injuries and degeneration that actually make it become stiff.
4. The hip has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility. This is particularly evident on range-of-motion testing for extension, medial and lateral rotation.
5. The lumbar and sacral region has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. This region sits at the crossroads of mechanical stress, and lack of motor control is often replaced with generalized stiffness as a survival strategy.
6. The thoracic region has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility. The architecture of this region is designed for support, but poor postural habits can promote stiffness.
7. The middle and lower cervical regions have a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control.
8. The upper cervical region has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility.
9. The shoulder scapular region has a tendency toward sloppiness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of stability and motor control. Scapular substitution represents this problem and is a common theme in shoulder rehabilitation.
10. The shoulder joint has a tendency toward stiffness and therefore could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility.
Questions to ask yourself before working a particular pattern on yourself or a client:
- I’m getting ready to train mobility or stability in this segment.
- I either want this segment to move better or I want this segment to be more stable.
- Have I truly cleared the joints above and below that can compound the problem?
There is no one way to approach this either. Some focus on top to bottom or bottom to top, or inside out. What is more significant is what will be best suited for your client and the systemic approach. We know that our skin and our fascia have an immense opportunity to offer us signals and communication from the inside out… or outside in approach. The brain and its information pathways work two ways. It doesn’t just send information down the spinal cord out to the hands and feet. We also take up information through the hands and feet as they have the highest degree of sensory feedback via nerves and tactile information sharing. Yet the hands and feet are rarely observed or brought into the training regime in traditional training.
Let’s Pick a Joint: Mechanics of the Foot:
Let’s look at the foot. Our shoes desensitize our feet. Our feet can become sloppy and lazy. The foot will keep flattening out to grab as much sensation as possible because the brain knows there is a problem. There is a lack of feedback. The brain needs more information to ensure the knee and hip work efficiently in association with the foot. If you’ve got bad shoulder positioning in a push or pull movement, you’re going to do things with your grip that aren’t as authentic as they could be. You will change the way you move, and the body will always take the path of least resistance – and compensate.
Understanding how each joint works and mapping the body as a whole should be a tool in every coaches toolbox.
To read Gray Cook’s full article and learn more about the joint by joint approach please click this link: http://graycook.com/?p=35