Special to The Union
Joint mobility is a relatively new concept in America. I became familiar with it while undertaking my Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) with master trainer Pavel Tsatsouline.
His super joints program has worked wonders for me as I move into my late 40s and for many of my personal training clients as well. Each month at Monster Gym, I teach a free clinic called Super Joints. The one hour clinic covers basic joint mobility exercises and gives our members a 6 to 8 minute routine they can do each morning at home.
Super Joints coupled with the Better Balance program that I covered in my column two weeks ago is one of the best ways to improve the health and function of your body as you age.
To an extent that is surprising, joint health depends on movement. However, as we age our joints tend to degrade and so does our ability to move with ease. In our society, joint pain and lack of mobility is simply accepted as part of the aging process. Scar tissue called adhesions and calcium deposits called joint salts along with wear and tear and various rheumatoid issues can lead to a debilitating quality of life.
The good news is that the new science of aging now tells us that this degenerative process has more to do with being sedentary than actual aging.
Joint mobility exercises simply involve moving a joint gently through its’ full range of motion. This smoothes out the joint surfaces and lubricates them with synovial fluid thereby improving joint health and range of motion.
Joint mobility is often equated with stretching and flexibility but the two are actually different. Improvements in flexibility do occur during joint mobility exercises but probably not in the way you might think. Flexibility is linked to the nervous system’s perception of safe movement. If moving a joint cause’s pain then the brain will restrict the movement. As joint mobility improves, movement of the joint is perceived as safe and flexibility naturally increases.
I have my clients under age 30 perform 25 repetitions of each joint mobility exercise. After 30 years of age he or she would perform the same number of repetitions as their age. A 50 year old person would perform 50 reps of each exercise. Yes, that means the older you are, the more you get to do!
You can Google “joint mobility exercises” and watch dozens of exercises in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Some of the more popular joint mobility exercises include: 3-way neck, shoulder circles, pull and grabs, wrist circles, Cork Screw, Hula Hoop, Egyptian, thrusts and ankle circles. If you have had a recent hip or knee replacement be sure to pay close attention to the direction of your doctor or physical therapist.
In a few weeks, you will be able to go to http://www.monstergyms.com and download a complete joint mobility routine with explanations of each exercise. As always, feel free to shoot me an e-mail with any questions. Good luck.
Mike Carville is a NASM/RKC-certified personal trainer and co-owner of South Yuba Club in Nevada City (SouthYubaClub.com) and Monster Gym in Grass Valley (MonsterGyms.com). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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