Thursday, March 11, 2010

Z-Health Thought of the Day: "Opposing Joints"

Our joints have a lot to do with proprioception. It’s a big word, but basically proprioception is our body’s ability to sense its position in space. Are you leaning forward, falling, slipping, spinning, tilting, speeding up, slowing down, etc.? We have receptors in our joints that sense all these and give IMMEDIATE feedback to the brain. Other ways to sense proprioception are vision and vestibular (ears).

The cool thing about proprioception is that it is all the body all the time. Our bodies are constantly re-evaluating our positions to make corrections and adjustments—millions and millions of times per year. The mechanoreceptors which are highly concentrated around our joints move at 300 MPH, so this happens really fast! Mechanoreceptors are all over the body—not just at joints—but they are more concentrated at the borders of joints, so working with the joints is a more efficient way to tap into this existing system. Ever felt a bug crawling on your skin? A really small bug or insect not even biting you? Thank the mechanoreceptors in your skin and hair follicles that sense movement!

While all the joints are connected at some level, certain joint areas have a more direct connection to other joint sites—these are called “opposing joints.” It’s really pretty fascinating how “everything is connected” and how we have these diagonal and spiral relationships in the body.

Here’s a short list of opposing joints. One is very connected to the other. If you have pain in one—you are likely to also have pain in the other. If one area is too painful for me to work on with you, I can use the opposing joint relationship to go to a “different” part of your body which can then reduce pain and increase mobility in the opposing joint that was originally hurting more. That is cool. I’ve already used this method to help people with Z-Health. One lady had really bad right hip pain, so I went to her left shoulder—then her right hip got better within minutes!!!

Here’s the short list of “Opposing Joints”

Toes-Fingers
Ankle-Wrist
Knee-Elbow
*Hip-Shoulder
Pelvis-Neck
Low Back-Mid Back
Tailbone-Jaw

*Example? Got a shoulder problem? It can likely be caused by an immobile hip that forces you to compensate all the time with your shoulder—often the “opposing” shoulder! Remember—where mobility is lost it will be gained at another joint as a compensation. Lose hip mobility—the shoulder might be forced into hyper mobility to compensate which puts the shoulder at risk for injury.

Think about where you might have pain, but don’t stop “where it hurts” because the root cause is likely somewhere else. This is a big lesson of Z-Health for me. Keep looking beyond where it hurts to find where the problem actually started. Sort of like root cause analysis but for our health and movement instead of a mechanical or factory processes at work. Traditional methods often miss this important point. Yes—the shoulder rotator cuff can be repaired, but what caused the tear? Where is the root cause? If we don’t find it, we might be looking at another shoulder repair! This exact scenario has presented to me quite often the last ten years. The real problem never got fixed by the surgery…back to square #1…how do you move?!!!

In Healthy MOVEment!
Coach RJ

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