Sunday, March 28, 2010

On Bones and Joints

This week's running miles totaled 52 miles (Mon.=0miles, Tues.-Sat.= 8 miles per day, Sun. 12 miles)

In my fifth grade class we have started a unit on the human body. The first lessons were on the bones and joints that make up the skeletal system.
Did you realize that when humans are born, that they have over 300 bones, but as bones in the skull, sacrum and hips fuse together by the time we are adults we end up with 206 bones. There are also more than 200 joints in the human body
Thursday morning, I decided to make the lesson more fun and active by having the class practice movements related to the many different joints in the body. I had my class practice some of the Z-Health joint mobility routines that I use to move the joints in their feet, ankles, knees, hips, and torso, as well as the joints in their fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and face. Through the fun and discussions, one of the girls in my class asked about cracking knuckles. She wanted to know makes the popping sound. I explained that it is just a release of gas in the joint as it is twisted. At which point one of the boys asked, " Is that why my dad always asks me to pull on his finger?" And that is why I enjoy teaching fifth grade!

Lately I have been reading through a most wonderful book called Advances in Functional Training: Training Techniques for Coaches, Personal Trainers and Athletes by Michael Boyle. It is a book full of the latest thinking, practice, and opinions in the field of functional training. It explains how the body works and gives reasons for doing certain exercises to improve function. I find it up-to-date with the newest ideas and that makes it a great book to read. Instead of rehashing old ideas, it presents new thinking and practice. I find the field of sport medicine and practice increasingly interesting, but you have to be on the cutting-edge to find the new ideas and this book provides them. I will note that often this book doesn't provide clear instructions on "how" to do some of the exercises that are mentioned. It assumes you are a trainer and know what the author is talking about, but it is a gold-mine of pertinent thinking and applications.

I remember when I starting running in the 1970's, the best sports medicine you could find would be an article by Dr. George Sheehan and his magic-6 stretches. A  lot of running books still precribe the standard static stretches as the means to stay injury-free. That stuff never worked for me, so I am glad to see some much growth in sports related medicine focused on biomechanics and muscular imbalances. I was reading in Michael Boyle's book last night on the joint-by-joint theory and the implications of learning to distinguish between issues of mobility and stability. Based on Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen (FMS), the idea is that the body is just a stack of joints. Each joint has a specific function. Sometimes it is to provide mobility and sometimes stability. Dysfunction happens predictably and so rather than training body parts, therapists and trainers are learning to train movement patterns. Interestingly enough, the joints move between mobility and stability. Look at this chart:

The ankle joints primary need is mobility.
The knee joints primary need is stability.
The hip joints primary need is mobility (over multiple planes-my problems originate here)
The lumbar spine needs stability.
The thoracic spine needs mobility (most misunderstood)
The scapula needs stability.
The gleno-humeral needs mobility.
A most interesting idea is that problems in one joint usually show up as pain in the joint above and below. For example, a loss of ankle mobility can give knee pain, a loss of hip mobility can give back pain, and a loss of thoracic mobility can give neck, shoulder, or low back pain. I find all of this fascinating. The book, though,  is going to take many reads to figure out. Fortunately I found a PT who works with Postural Restoration. I am finally restoring lost function to my body and I feel so much better because of it.

This week I noticed that two very distinquished trainers both commented on their interest in Postural Restoration. Eric Cressey author Maximum Strength: Get Your Strongest Body in 16 Weeks with the Ultimate Weight-Training Program along with Matt Fitzgerald as well as the DVD "Magnificent Mobility" mentions going to a Postural Restoration workshop in his blog post, Stuff You Should Read. Carson Boddicker in his blog which is listed over to the left, mentions Postural Restoration in the artictle, Regaining the Frontal Plane, and tells how it works with the multi-planer movements and resulting dysfunction in the hips.

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