|Joint Function: The First Step to Better Mobility|
Joints enable motion by allowing the rigid bones they connect to flex. Imagine what walking or climbing stairs would look like without knees! Strong and flexible joints are the key to better balance, moving well, falling less and living more.
Good mobility is vital to being independent and living life to its fullest potential. The ability to move well is a complex symphony between joints, muscles, neural and sensory systems with the brain being the conductor. All of these players need to work in harmony to move easily and safely. By gently strengthening joints through a full range of motion, all systems are engaged and synergy is promoted so you can experience better balance, increased strength, greater ankle flexibility, increased independence, improved continence and a reduced chance of falling. Over ten clinical studies continue to show these benefits in as little as 10 minutes once per week using the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer and programming.
Step #1: Range of Motion
The first step to better mobility starts by improving the way joints move (1). When ankles, knees and hips move better, we do too! Moving joints through their full range of motion (ROM) can reduce pain and stiffness by lubricating joints with synovial fluid, delivering more nutrients and oxygen and removing waste products. Muscles, tendons (attach muscle to bone), ligaments (attach bones to bones) and soft tissues that surround joints can move more freely and fluidly. Dancing, Pilates, Tai Chi and yoga are activities that support healthy joint action.
Training through a full ROM provides physical and neurological benefits because joints are key triggers for sensory-motor systems (2). When more muscles are activated, a greater number of nerves and sensory receptors are stimulated (3) to improve mobility. If a joint’s ROM is limited, so is the sensory information and muscle activation needed for agility, balance and coordination.
A training mistake made all too often is building strength on top of stiff joints. This perpetuates poor posture, body mechanics and gait dysfunction. Joints that move freely through a full range of motion are the key to reducing pain and stiffness while restoring fluid movement and strengthening body-brain communication required for balance.
Mobility = Strength + Flexibility
Every step we take starts with the ankles, knees and hips on up. Good joint action is a combination of strength and flexibility. Strength is the ability to exert force and is the foundation of all function. Joints surrounded by strong muscles and connective tissue provide greater stability to control movement and withstand stress. Flexibility is the ability to move joints through a full range of motion freely, easily and efficiently.
Step #2: Build Strength
Our bodies are incredibly “plastic” and adapt according to what we do daily. Our brain and nervous systems are also plastic and thrive on novelty and variety. The principle of “move it or lose it” applies.
What’s good for the body is also good for the brain. Resistance training can relieve stress, depression and anxiety by stimulating endorphin and neurotransmitter production. Losing cognition is a big concern with dementia risk growing as the years pass. Research shows a connection between strong legs and a strong mind (4,5,6)
To build strength, we need to progressively challenge the body using body weight, weights or elastic resistance. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, programs should be customized based on abilities, needs and goals. Gain strength by making systematic and gradual adjustments in the basic training variables:
Frequency (how often): 2-3 non-consecutive days per week
Intensity (how hard): Start with low or no resistance
Volume (how much):
• Time: 10-30 minutes
• Exercises: 1-2 per major muscle group
• Repetitions: 8 – 15 X
• Sets: 1-3
• Rest: As needed between exercises and sets
The body, brain and nervous system thrive on novelty so add variety to resistance training and movement programs.
Focus on How You Feel
Strength training should be challenging and may cause a bit of discomfort during the process but it should not cause pain! Pain is your body’s wisdom shouting at you to stop! If you feel tired or drained after exercise, you are doing too much. Make adjustments to your strengthening practice by reducing the frequency, intensity or volume or changing the type of exercise. Exercise should energize you!
When joints are able to move freely and fully that’s when mobility magic materializes. More muscles and connective tissues that support joints are activated leading to greater strength gain potentials (7,8,9). The surrounding sensory and neural systems are able to provide clear messages to the brain about joint position and movement required for balance, agility and coordination (10).
Good joint mobility can improve our internal sensory system called “proprioception” (11). This sense of body awareness can be likened to having a strong cell-tower signal when you are talking with a friend and can hear and understand every word spoken. With all of the information, you can respond appropriately. Weak and stiff joints provide a poor signal where only bits and pieces of the conversation can be heard so you can’t completely understand what is going on. Without all of the information, a clear response can’t be made. This same principle applies to your body and brain.
The Foundation of Mobility & Balance
The moment feet touch the ground, all mobility and balance begins! The feet and ankles are lush with sensory cells (9) that send messages to the brain about where they are and what’s going on under the feet. Walking on a rocky path? Stepping off a curb? Climbing stairs? With lightning fast speed, the brain processes the sensory information received from joints, muscles and soft tissues, and responds rapidly by telling muscles when to contract and relax to keep you upright and balanced.
Strong and flexible ankles are essential for proprioception, postural and balance control (13, 14). Too often, ankle function is overlooked. When was the last time you worked on your ankle strength and flexibility?
If a home is built without a solid foundation, walls will crack, buckle, and collapse. The foundation of good mobility and balance starts from the ground up at the ankles. Since knees and hips are stacked on top, the way they function largely depends on ankle action.
The Joint Connection
All joints are connected and work together just like the familiar “Dry Bones” song, “The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone; The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone; The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone….” Intimately connected, the function of one joint affects the others. A problem in one joint often shows up as pain in the joint above or below it. Low back pain is often caused by poor hip mobility and knee pain by poor ankle mobility (1).
To improve mobility and reduce fall risk, ankle strength and flexibility needs to take center stage. Stacks of research point to ankle strength and flexibility being essential for posture, balance, gait, functional ability and reducing fall risk (13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19). Strengthening the ankles through a full range of motion should be the basis of balance, wellness and fall prevention programs.
Key Muscles for Balance
Targeting muscles that affect balance during exercise therapy may also improve functional mobility. Key muscle groups include the ankle dorsi- and plantar flexors (lifting toes and heels), knee extensors and flexors (quadriceps and hamstrings) and hip abductor and adductors (moving legs away from and towards the center of the body) (21), as well as ankle inversion-eversion range of motion (turning toes inward and outward) (15, 20).
A comprehensive resistance training program that strengthens these key muscle groups may also elicit neural adaptations specific to improve balance control (21). Joint strength and flexibility, especially at the ankles, may result in more consistent balance improvements (15, 16, 22).
1. Better balance and mobility begins with strong and flexible joints.
The first step is to improve the way joints move and their range of motion. Simply moving joints through their full ROM can reduce pain and stiffness by lubricating joints with synovial fluid, increasing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen and removal of waste products. Surrounding muscles, tendons ligaments and soft tissues are lengthened to move freely and fluidly while engaging neural and sensory systems to experience better balance.
2. Build strength when joints are moving freely and fully.
The body is plastic and will adapt to progressive challenges by getting stronger, with adequate rest and recovery. Start with no or low resistance using body weight, weights or elastic resistance. Systematically increase strength by adjusting training variables of frequency (how often), intensity (how hard) and volume (how much) to get stronger. The body and brain thrive on novelty and variety. Strong legs are linked to a strong mind.
3. Target ankle action and key muscles essential for balance.
How well ankles move affects the function of all the joints stacked above when walking, climbing stairs or engaging in life’s myriad daily activities. Research supports the starring role that ankle strength and flexibility plays in proprioception, posture, balance and reducing fall risk.
Key muscles affecting balance should be emphasized including those that straighten and bend the knee (quadriceps / hamstrings) and hip muscles that bring the legs away from and towards the body’s midline (hip abductors / adductors).
Addressing strength, flexibility and balance can be overwhelming and time-consuming but the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer makes it simple.
We have been astounded by the results from over ten clinical studies using MoveMor™ in as little as 10 minutes once per week that continue to prove:
• Better Balance
• Increased Strength
• Greater Ankle Flexibility
• Increased Independence
• Improved Continence
• Reduced Fall Risk
Strengthening from one safely seated position removes the risk and fear of falling.
(When appropriate, it can also be used standing with adequate support.)
Just sit, strap feet in and move through a comfortable, pain-free range of motion.
Seniors feel their legs getting stronger, enjoy using MoveMor™ and studies prove it works.
Range of Motion
Training joints through full movement helps relieve pain and restore optimal function while building strength, flexibility and balance so the body can perform better in any situation. Improve ankle strength and flexibility and target key muscles affecting balance simultaneously to reduce fall risk.
Move seamlessly to and from ankle, knee and hip exercises, without any reconfiguration makes it convenient to complete lower body strengthening in 10 minutes. A mobility training framework with progressive programming is provided including videos available on our website.
Little Effort, Big Benefits
Unlike any other product, you can experience greater mobility, quality of life and independence in as little as 10-20 minutes, 1-3 times per week.
We are happy to help! Please call us at 303.515.7070 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improve strength, balance, and mobility today!
Call 303.515.7070 for specials and volume discounts.
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