Thursday, April 5, 2012

Have joint pain?

Today's newsletter/email of the day from a good doctor talks to me about exercise, joint pain and the supplements he'll sell me to help with my joint pain.  Yet joint pain is a thing of the past when one is able to align body segments as the designer intended.  When you stack your body up so you're perpendicular to gravity (stand up straight), you don't need to grip any one muscle:  they're all  "live" and ready for your next move.

Happy muscles are those which are capable of both generating force AND stretching.  To be capable of this they need to hold themselves at a happy 'medium.'  There is a "goldilocks" place for your bones (and the muscles which support them) and if you habitually hold yourself in a manner counter to that, you get muscles which must become either too loose or too tight.  Muscles work antagonistically, meaning that when muscles on one side flex, the ones on the other side stretch...so you can see it's pretty simple to assume a position which compromises the way your joints feel over time.  Tight hamstrings, anyone?  Tension in your neck and shoulders?

My joint pain has been in my knees, indicating (which I nonetheless ignored) that there was muscular weaknesses around the joint:  but instead of listening to the cues my genius body was sending me, I did nothing.  Unable to wait for me to come to my senses, my body adapted to the weakness by tightening up and I pretty much relinquished most of the functionality of that knee. Which, by the way, had an effect on all of me.

Enter Restorative Exercise, my great awakening. The more upright I become, the nearer I get to having straight legs, the better my knees feel.  I believe that strengthening my hamstrings was a big part of the equation but you could also say it is a matter of lengthening my quads & adductors and they'd both be right. The prescription is:  whatever you need to do to align yourself to oppose the force of gravity with ease.

It's a complex issue, as whatever part of you that's out of whack affects everything else.  When one muscle's too tight, it's not as if everything else can just 'let that be.'  For you to get on with your day, every other muscle has to make an accommodation for the tight/weak muscle you're not addressing.

I recently injured the fourth toe on my left foot swinging a door open onto it after a yoga class.  (Man!  that smarted. )  :o(  Even putting my five finger shoes on was tricky & what does my neck and shoulders have to do with the end of my toe??? The response to this little event was whole body - every step could be felt right up through my shoulders and neck:  how could I avoid hurting this toe more?  My entire body seemingly had to tense up to make it happen: to favor that toe.

Maybe you have some sexy looking shoes that produce a similar effect.  Trust me, the shoes don't make you look so sexy when you're all hunched over, (maybe you just have to wear your shoulders a little higher and a bit forward for now) but you know you're headed in that direction if you feel it in your knees when you descend a staircase.... (can I get an Amen?)

Time to straighten up and locomote right.

Restorative Exercise to attain optimal alignment:  it's the right thing to do.  Or the upright thing to do.  What the Designer intended.  Don't find those declarations compelling?  It feels really good too.  :o)

Oh yeah: as if saying goodbye to joint pain weren't enough, being in proper alignment (and moving through life that way) helps all your cells function optimally, too:  your blood moves smooth and easy (tight muscles = poor circulation), which brings the good stuff in and carries away that which is no longer useful.  Which is why a massage feels so good on tight muscles:  a little blood flow brings in the good stuff and releases the bad.  Ahhhh.

You could arrange yourself so you feel as if you just got a massage all the time.  That's my personal goal.