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Back Pain, Joint Stability and Mobility - How is Yours, Head to Toe?

What’s your greatest movement achievement of 2023?

Perhaps sticking to your new fitness programme, taking up running or lifting weights, continuing with daily walks, or trying something new like Yoga or Pilates.

And hopefully it is enjoyable, helps you achieve your health goals, and, of course, is discomfort-free!

Do you, or anyone you know, happen to have back or knee pain when exercising?

One of the reasons exercise can bring about pain and discomfort is due to excess mobility and insufficient stability in the “correct” areas of the body.

Take, for instance, shoulders. Many of us feel our shoulders are tight and restricted, sounds familiar? There’s always a reason for that - and the most common one is that the neighbouring areas, our shoulder blades and lower neck regions, have lost their stability.

In fact, in our body, we should have mobility and stability “alternating” in a joint-by-joint fashion, starting from the floor up…

Ankle – Mobility

Knee – Stability

Hip – Mobility

Lumbar Spine – Stability

Thoracic Spine – Mobility

Scapula – Stability

Shoulder – Mobility

Lower & Middle Cervical Spine – Stability

Upper Cervical Spine – Mobility

In this context, stability is defined as “Not likely to give way or overturn”. It does not mean stiffness - but a solid, flexibly moving and responsive foundation for movement of the neighbouring body areas.

But in reality, we often have it all back to front!

I see tons of people with stiff, immobile upper backs (instead of a nicely movable ribcage) and an overworking, over-hinging lumbar spine that tries to move every time we try to move our hips. Because our hips tend towards stiffness, ladies and gentlemen, by and large - how are yours?

There is a wonderful concept called “dissociation” of the joint - for instance, our pelvis should move without the lower back moving. It is “dissociated” from the lower back. Our shoulderblades should be able to move without always consistently involving the upper back.

But oftentimes, people who come to see me have a reduced abilty to dissociate one joint movement from another - and we need to re-learn that skill. When we do, movement becomes less “fuzzy”, less pulling on other areas that are, in reality, separate body parts with their own tasks. Cleaner movement means less compensations, less overwork, and greater stability - and mobility - of the correct areas.

And pain can very much follow if we have fuzzy, compensating, unclear movement patterns. We lose ankle mobility, then the knee tries to create extra movement (losing its stability) - and we get knee pain, wear-and-tear, possibly arthritis in the long run.

Credit: Fortitude Health and Performance
Stability and Mobility: Discover possible reasons for your back pain

We lose hip mobility, our lower back tries to help out instead - it loses its stability, starts to overhinge, increasing risks of back pain, and contributing to wear-and-tear.

You get the picture.

Pilates, coupled with NeuroKinetic therapy, is a great toolset to create stability and mobility in the correct areas and restore the body’s optimal patterning. Why not try this in 2024 to further enhance your movement and health goals? I am based in Wimborne, Dorset, and I see people in-person or online for 1-1 and group work.

Have a wonderful Christmas, a great winter holiday break, and a very happy, successful and healthy 2024 full of joyful movement.

To your health, Kaye


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