Full Range of Motion of Our Joints - by Nicole Kees
The week before last (already? Where did that time go??) I attended a 5 day course lead by a wonderful teacher by the name of Jules Mitchell. She is an interesting combination of Yoga teacher, biomechanist and exercise scientist – very much about the East meeting with the West. She wanted her masters thesis to incorporate relevance to advancing our understanding of what happens when we practice Yoga so she began an in depth understanding of the muscles which lead to stretching: the useful elements and also the potential for injury.
One of the takeaways for me, that I shared in class last week, was a direct link to Katy Bowman’s work in which she talks about “mechanotransduction”: the ability of every cell to respond to changes in pressure exerted upon it (or lack there of) and transfer that pressure to the next cell and the next and so on.
So when our joints receive pressure signals through movement or load it can stimulate the cells involved with cartilage production to keep reproducing. The example Jules used was in the hip or shoulder joints: if we don’t move our arms or legs in a way that puts the joint through its full range of motion then eventually the cartilage that is being missed in our movement patterns is no longer required to be produced by the body. In later years cartilage at the outer edges of the joint appears crumbly or non-existent thus limiting comfortable movement.
I guess the take home message is to keep moving our whole body, in all planes of movement: front, back, to the side, overhead, rotating…I’m thinking dancing like a wild-woman!! On a more reasonable level, find things in every day life that simulate these movements so you can get things done…but try and keep the joy and curiosity part of it as well, the mind too plays such a big part in how we move.