Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Don't bankrupt your joints with your poor spending (movement) choices!

The way you move throughout the day has a big impact on the health of your joints and spine.  Think about things like picking up a sock, unloading the dryer, tying your shoe, washing the bathtub, sweeping the floor, putting a DVD in the DVD player (assuming it's lower than waist height), getting up off the toilet.  Think about all the things you do with your body in the run of a day that require you to go from being vertical to being bent in the middle, or at the knee.  There's are a multitude of ways to get closer to the ground,  but depending on how you do it you may be causing a lot of wear and tear on your joints.

Knee over toes, no lumbar curve, even some neck compression.  I also had to grip the floor with my toes to keep from falling forward on this one. It hurted!

Let's say you have a bazillion dollars in the bank.  But over the years you spend all of it on stupid stuff.  You bought a  pale blue diamond studded track suit, you bought a helicopter made of gold, you ate take out sushi for every meal instead of buying groceries and making your own food...  Now you have one dollar left, and you spend it on a chocolate bar.  You blew your last dollar on a chocolate bar.  Tell me, did you go broke buying a chocolate bar, or did you go broke because you made bad choices with your money, and had poor spending habits?

Your joints are kinda the same deal.  When you use them improperly, their health is finite.  FINITE!  If you're always bending at the spine, letting your lumbar curve do the work of your hips, it's like taking a big fat $50 bill out of the bank.  At some point, you're not gonna have anything left in the bank, and you're not gonna have any health left in the joint.  So when you bend over to pick up your newspaper and you put your back out, it's because you just took out the last dollar in the account.  You did not injure your back picking up a newspaper, you injured your back due to years of making bad choices with your movements, and having poor postural habits, then you blew your last bit of health picking up a newspaper.

We always work to put and keep money in the bank, likewise you need to work to maintain the health of your joints and spine.  You can start right now by changing those mundane actions you do day in day out.  All those damaging little movements add up over time, turning into pain and disease.  My three helpful hints to keep your joints and spine from going bankrupt are:

1.  Try not to let your knees track over your toes when you bend them.  That might mean really backing your weight into your heels and bending quite a bit at the hip, you may not be able to bend your knees very much at first if you're trying to keep your shins vertical.

Lumbar curve in tact!  My shins could stand to be a little more vertical.  Some practise in a mirror will help me learn how to feel when my shins are really vertical.

2.  When you bend at the middle, make sure you're hinging at the hip instead of from the lower back, keep your tailbone untucked and your lumbar curve intact. Try bending over while looking in a mirror at first, sometimes it's hard to tell if you're moving from the spine or the hip.  You can also put your hands on your lower back and feel for movement as you bend (hint: there shouldn't be ANY movement in your lower back).  If you're not used to it, you may not be able to get very close to the floor.  That's ok.  Keep at it.

Let your fat ass back up behind your heels to keep from falling forward.  Otherwise you have to grip the floor with your toes, and they weren't designed to be used like that.

3.  Switch it up!  Sometimes try bending with your legs straight, hinging at the hip.  Sometimes try bending at the hip and knee, with your shins vertical, like a squat.  (click for more squat how-to)

It's difficult at first, but just changing the way you move will help you loosen up, and before long you'll be touching the floor without having to worry about hurting yourself.  When you move this way, you actually increase the health of your joints.  Your hips, knees, and back will really feel like...a million bucks.  ha.  ha ha.  ha ha ha.


  1. Great post Jillian. I did lots of gardening yesterday and forgot! Cost me a lot of those health dollars. (Christine Shuttleworth)

  2. I love your analogy! Great that you made it into a blog post after all!

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