Is It True That if You Don’t Use it You Lose it?

The Benefits of Functional Range Conditioning ®

A question that we’re frequently reminded of when watching The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, but in this case, we’re referring to joint range of motion. Our whole skeletal system is connected by joints and within the category of joints, there are several types. Your spinal joints, wrist joints, ankles, shoulders, fingers, knees, etc. All have different types of joints, however, no matter how different, they all require the ability to move. Joint range of motion is a very good indicator of your joint health as well as the health of the soft tissue structures connected to it (ligaments, tendons, etc.). Being able to move through your joints mindfully is a great way to maintain mobility.

In the human body, we technically have one brain, but joints can be thought of as brains of their domain. Your hip joint is the brain that will feed information to all the local soft tissue structures connected to it. So let’s pretend that your hip joint is a professor and the tissues around it are the students. If Professor Hip at some low ranking school is teaching its students garbage information then the students will learn garbage information. On the contrary, if Professor Hip is employed at Harvard Law then she’s probably giving some smart lectures and educating her students with high-quality material. So, to put it bluntly: stupid joint = stupid soft tissue = high risk of injury; smart joint = smart soft tissue = low risk of injury.

Now the question is “if my hip is stupid how do I make it smart?” The first thing that needs to happen is to gain awareness of the joint itself. Let’s continue using the hip as our example. If I ask you to point to your hips I’m sure many of you would point to the top of your pelvis instead. Learning WHERE your joints are located is the first step in awareness of the region. Secondly, we want to isolate movement in that area. This means that when I tell you to extend your hip behind you, you don’t move your entire trunk to do it (i.e. you need to minimize overcompensation). You should just move the area of focus. Another example would be you stretching your hamstrings every day and being able to bend forward to touch the ground, but if you were to lay on your back and I asked you to do an active straight leg raise, you would not be able to attain nearly as much length in your hamstrings due to a lack of core control, hip control, and quad strength. This leads me to the next point that flexibility does not necessarily equal mobility (depending on your definition).

Often times flexibility is sought after by lengthening tissue with the idea that that’s what we need to decrease tightness. The issue with that is, for the most part, our body is filled with imbalances that are not just because of shortened muscles. Sometimes tension occurs in the muscle that is already lengthened too much and stretching it causes the muscle to rebound and tighten more. Being able to control the range of motion will help activate the right muscles to carry out the action at hand. When we think of flexibility we want to think of it in terms of being able to move through a joint in a controlled manner such that we do not overcompensate or underutilize the proper muscles meant to take us through the range.

Another point to understand is that our daily lives do not require us to move through all of our joint ranges. Sitting at a desk all day is the complete opposite of what we need and it creates a lot of immobility and instability at the hips, neck, mid-back, low back, shoulders, and core (doesn’t that seem like the majority of your body? yes.). Assuming most of us spend our days seated for a greater part of the time we can assume that we all need to move our joints through ranges of motion that they are designated. That means getting up frequently and spending a short period of time showing your joints some much-deserved love and they will love you back. Functional Range Conditioning ® (or FRC®) is a developed system that educates people and their joints on how to move and maintain their established range of motion as well as increase it. This is a tool I frequently use when trying to restore the body’s ability to move and make improvements.

Since utilizing Functional Range Conditioning ® I have been able to move better, get rid of pain faster, and have more youthful joints and passing along to my patients has been extremely helpful in their recovery as well. If you are someone who struggles with daily aches and pains and/or feels tight or stiff then this is something you should consider integrating into your daily routine.

If you’re an athlete, a weekend warrior, or just want to explore ways to keep your joints functioning properly to decrease your chance of injury, Functional Range Conditioning ® could be a useful tool. If you want to learn more, give us a call or fill out the form below.

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