We have all had a momentary slip and ended up hurting a joint. This is an extreme example of how a misalignment can cause problems. However, slight mis-alignments over a period of time can cause damage and long-term problems.
Our joints have their own normal range of motion. Some joints like your knees have a very limited range of motion laterally. Yes they fold like a door hinge, but in other directions they only have 15 or so degrees of motion.
I came across this dramatically in the Chinese martial and movement arts where they have a much deeper understanding of body mechanics. Many of the older systems literally spend years just reprogramming your body to remove bad habits and movements. Only then would they start to teach you the more interesting subjects. Fundamentally, if you more naturally, you reduce ware and tear, age better and in the martial arts it means that you can generate far more power. It’s not unusual to meet Tai Chi masters in their late 80’s or older who are sprightly and can still throw you around like a rag doll!
My joints were severely stressed by practicing karate when I was in my teens and early twenties. For me, these Asian arts opened the door to healing the damage and being able to move far more naturally.
Forget trekking off to China in search of an elusive master who can teach you. It really boils down to a few key principles:
- Learning to relax when moving.
- Some basic exercises to reprogram your movements so that you work within your natural limits and alignments.
- Doing a few twisting exercises to loosen your joints to get your circulation flowing better.
Many Tai Chi classes can provide you with the basics to maintain your joints. However, these vary enormously in quality.
It’s also worth looking at our Chinese Mobility Secrets as a quicker way to help your joints.
- Related Blogs on joint alignment