Preventing Injury and Gaining Complete Mobility
Our body is made up of a series of joints which all work together with our muscles to provide movement or stabilisation of that movement in everything we do.
Each joint has specific needs and the following is a list of the most common effects of misuse, underuse or overuse on our joints.
- Ankle-becomes immobile
- Knee-loses stability
- Hip-loses both but in particular mobility
- Lumbar Spine (lower back)-losses of stability are very common
- Thoracic Spine (mid back)-becomes stiff and loses mobility
- Scapulo-thoracic (upper back)-loses stability
So what we need to work on for most of the population are:
- Mobility of the ankle
- Stability of the knee
- Mobility of the hip
- Stability of the lumbar spine
- Mobility of the Thoracic Spine
- Stability of the scapulo-thoracic spine
Why is this important?
Any injury to a joint that should be stable, results in mobility.
Take for instance the knee joint. What would we call knee mobility? An ACL tear is what we would call it (or other ligament tear)
Stiff ankles result in the knee joint having to take the impact, when the knees real job is to provide stability for the ankle and hip joints.
A mobile joint like the ankle, is less likely to result in a tear when twisted or turned. If it’s too stiff, the knee joint will have to take the impact and absorb the movement.
Immobile and inflexible hips cause more lower back pain than any other cause. When looking for the cause of pain, we should be looking above or below the pain.
If you hips are not mobile, the lumbar spine must become flexible to pick up the slack.
Any joint disfunction will effect the joints above and/or below. Poor ankle mobility equals knee pain. Poor hip mobility causes low back pain and poor thoracic spine mobility causes neck and upper back pain.
What can we do about it?
Instead of treating overuse injuries with a trauma based model, we need to treat these injuries by reteaching the joints that are causing the pain. It’s important to look at where the pain is originating from and what is causing it.
The method of treatment should involve every part of your training. From your strength segment, to your cardio to your core training.
We must maintain spinal stability while core training, reactivate the hips, glutes and hamstrings. We must maintain upper back and knee stability during workouts at all times. We must work on hip flexibility and mobility by stabilising the spine and knees while squatting or lunging lower over time.
How does Bootcamp fit into this?
As regulars know, I constantly teach proper progressions and indicate proper form. The familiar chants of “weight back on the heels” or “keep the hips still and stable,” all allude to reattaining correct joint function. “Push the knees out, don’t let them come in” or “drop the hips, keep the chest up” are other familiar verses.
If you can get all your joints to function correctly in the manner that they are designed for, you can almost say you will remain or become injury free. Constant back pain will most likely become a thing of the past and that ‘dicky’ knee that you thought was going to be around forever, may just right itself and become pain free as well.
So it’s more than just a hammering session. From the warm up to the stretching at the end. Every part of the training session has a purpose. Each exercise is chosen for the benefits it will provide.
Often newcomers struggle just as much with the ‘less taxing’ core training as the fast paced, intense cardio and that’s because they begin to use muscles and joints in ways that they had long ago forgotten.
Can you remember how you felt after your first few sessions? How you had pain in places you didn’t even realise had soft tissue like muscles and ligaments? That’s another reason to take it easy in the beginning. To progress slowly and build up over time slowly. To do modified versions of each drill as instructed and not think about what others may or may not be thinking. Everyone was there once.
Please add a comment if you have experienced an improvement in ongoing pain, such as back pain, or if you have any questions about this post.
Of course, falling from an unstable surface (such as a RipStick) could result in an injury caused by trauma rather than overuse. It’s less likely with stable and mobile joints working correctly, but gee those things can scoot out from under you quickly with no warning!!