The Importance of Joint Mobility to Accompany Your Strength Training Program
by Beth Chiuchiarelli Accredited Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates
To get the most out of your strength training or rehabilitation programs we not only need to strengthen the muscles that move and support the joint but we also need to maintain normal range of motion of your joints.
Joints have cartilage that provide articular surfaces for shock absorption so that bones are protected when there is a load placed on them. They have ligaments that provide passive support as well as a dense fibrous capsule made out of many collagen fibers that encase the joint and not only provides static support but also provide a type of torque (wind up action) of the joint to help provide a transfer of load to muscles during movement.
Our joints are made to move over a millions of times in a lifetime and so if there is anything in a joint that is compromised and you feel pain or there is swelling. The damage has probably already occurred. Mobility of a joint is important to allow better efficiency of these joints so that their movements are not compromised and joints need to be strong so that they move better and in the right position. They need to be mobile enough to allow the muscles to do their job properly. If a joint is stiff there is less ability for the muscle to move the joint through its normal range of motion. The better the joint moves the better the effect the muscles will have.
Unfortunately, when there is muscular weakness around a joint or you have an injury muscles become rigid and have poor contractile ability and the capsule can become thickened reducing its ability to provide the necessary movement the joint needs. This can cause the joint capsule as well as fascia and muscles to become stiff, this can reduce your ability to improve your strength and so you may notice that we usually prescribe some sort of treatment such as myofascial release in your sessions. What we also like to do is teach you how this can be done on your own.
There are many pieces of equipment in the market today to help you complete self guided myofascial release to improve your joint mobility. We recommend foam rollers, spikey balls, even a rubber bouncy ball is fine. Currently we have been trialling the way we can use the heavy power bands to help with improved joint range of motion as well as the Lacrosse ball – which is the size of a tennis ball however made out of rubber.
Once we have assessed your joints range of motion as well as its strengths/weaknesses we can prescribe a very specific exercise and mobility program for you. For more information contact us on 9857 0644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chin up is a fantastic upper body exercise using your own body weight as the resistance. If you have never tried a chin up before prepare for hard work! It is not easy! It requires the use of various muscle groups from the shoulders, arms, back and core You need some strength and stability of the shoulder girdle to complete a chin up correctly. Without stability of the shoulder joint and strength of the surrounding muscles it is impossible to complete a chin up correctly. To get the benefit of a chin up it is extremely important to be able to maintain control and good posture throughout the movement.
Common Errors in the Chin Up
1. Using momentum – Swinging your legs to give you more lift upwards assists your upper body however doesn’t allow for improvements in strength and stability – slow controlled movements will activate more muscle fibres and in turn improve your upper body strength.
2. Shoulders positioned forward – you must keep your shoulders back and chest lifted.
3. Legs should be positioned straight below the torso not swinging forward.
REMEMBER! QUALITY MORE THAN QUANTITY!
If you can only do 1 chin up correctly – practice this until you can complete 2 chin ups and so forth Don’t continue a poor chin up you will not improve and may cause yourself a shoulder injury.
Five Technique Tips for the Beginner:
1. Have your palms facing you when holding onto the bar – this will incorporate your bicep muscles and is an easier form of the chin up
2. Firstly trial eccentric chin ups – jump up so you holding yourself on the bar then slowly lower yourself down until your elbows are full extended.
3. Activate your glutes (buttocks muscles) and core muscles this will help to keep your spine in a neutral position and to prevent your legs from swinging forwards.
4. Slowly lift yourself towards the bar continuing to maintain this posture then slowly lower yourself until you have reached near to full elbow extension.
5. Repeat as many as you can with this posture! If you cannot maintain technique. REST!
Can’t do a chin up? – TRY THIS FIRST!
Eccentric chin ups!
1. Instead of lifting yourself towards the bar try to jump up and hold yourself then as slow as you can lower yourself to the ground.
Remember to maintain good posture (chest lifted slightly, shoulder back and down )
Only lower yourself to the point at which you lose your technique. Continue with this until you can lower yourself all the way down.
Once you can do the above correctly – try a full chin up !
The lunge is a great multi- joint exercise for strengthening muscles that support your hips, knees and ankles. Compared to the squat, which is an up and down motion on two legs, lunges requires you to be in a split stance with one leg in front of the other which requires more strength, balance and core stability. It is imperative to perform lunges with the correct technique otherwise you may be compromising the effectiveness of the exercise or cause yourself an injury.
Here are some important technique cues for lunges:
1. Maintain good posture!
Your back must be straight and your shoulders retracted and chest lifted. Your head should be facing straight ahead.
2. Feet should be in line with your hips
Your front and back leg should be in line with your hips. Many people try to put one foot in front of the other which makes the exercise much more difficult. It is much more functional to maintain correct alignment of the knees with the hips.
3. Keep knees behind your toes
When bending the knees into a lunge both the front and back leg should be able to bend to at least 90 degrees. (If you find this difficult it is ok to lunge only until you feel comfortable)
Make sure that your knees do not go over your toes otherwise you will be putting added strain through the quadriceps in the knees rather than evenly distributing weight through the gluteal muscles at the hips.
4. Knees should be in line with your second toe
If you have some weakness in your hips you will find it difficult to maintain your knee in line with your second toe. You may find that your knee collapses inward the further your bend. If this is the case only lunge as far as you can whilst maintaining all of the above cues.
Need some help with your lunges? OR want to know ways in which you can adjust the lunge to make it harder or easier?
– post a comment and we will get back to with some exciting new lunges to try
Many women are afraid of exercising whilst pregnant, however it is highly dependent on what type of exercises you choose to do.
For example it is very important to maintain the strength and stability of your joints especially your pelvis. During pregnancy the ligaments that support your pelvis become more relaxed, which means you are more dependent on your muscles for stability.
If you have weak muscles you are at risk of back and pelvic pain. Maintaining the strength of the muscles that support the joints will reduce the pain and support your pelvis during labour.
The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
There are many other benefits of taking part in a specific exercise program designed for you and your body’s needs such as:
• Improved strength of your back and gluteal (buttocks) muscles which can help manage back pain as your baby grows • Improved posture • Improved core and pelvic floor control • Improved circulation • Weight management • Improved sleep and stress relief • Prepares your body for labour • Recover from labour faster = faster return to pre-pregnancy fitness and a healthy weight
All of the above positive outcomes will allow your pregnancy to be a much smoother process for you and your baby.
Exercises that are safe during pregnancy:
• Pilates – core and pelvic floor strength and stability • Specifically chosen resistance exercises for increasing your strength • Walking • Swimming
Exercises to avoid:
• Running • Cycling • Contact sports • After approximately 16 weeks you should avoid exercises lying on your back due to the risk of your baby slowing the return of blood to your heart. Exercises in side lying, standing or sitting are fine. • Jumping or activities that risk falling such as skiing or horse riding
Recommendations for you:
We recommend that before you decide to exercise whilst pregnant you must speak to a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist to design a program specific for you. That way you know that the exercises you are doing are safe and will benefit you and your baby! Please share this article with your expecting friends or contact MD Health on 03 9857 0644 for a FREE Full Body Assessment. We would be happy to help design a program for you!
Article written by Beth Chiuchiarelli Exercise Physiologist at MD Health