The recent Dynamic Aging: Moving Well with (or Without) Joint Replacements weekend immersion at 1440 Multiversity was sold out, with a looong wait list. For good reason.
Word is out on the importance of joint health for posture, movement and the structural support necessary for all of your inner systems to run smoothly as time marches on.
The Dynamic Aging program was led by Tune Up Fitness® creator Jill Miller and Nutritious Movement® founder Katy Bowman. Jill and Katy have both built their life’s work around sustainable, self-care based practices. Practices that are designed to empower the general public to take health and longevity into their own hands… and bones.
As friends and co-conspirators for the wellbeing of humankind, they decided to join forces on the topic of joint health for “Dynamic Aging” (which is the name of one of Katy Bowman’s books).
You may have missed the weekend, but below you’ll get some highlights from Jill Miller on how to maintain ‘springtime in your joints’–the ability to keep them supple, strong and maybe even youthful… so you can continue playing your way through life despite normal physical wear, tear and setbacks.
1. How does joint health relate to overall physical health?
“Your joints either grant you range of motion or they limit your range of motion,” shares Jill. “Your soft tissues that surround your joints are designed inherently to have a certain length/tension relationship. Retaining that relationship optimizes function.
“So when muscles or soft tissues stiffen because you’re not taking your joint through range of motion, then we start to have pathologies to those tissues.”
What does this look like in daily life?
“It could be simple as ‘I have neck pain because I’m not fully rotating my neck to the right and left… I’m not extending and flexing my neck on a regular basis–because I’m just staring at a computer screen… and you start to have aches and pains that are a part and parcel of not mobilizing those joints. The neck is an easy one to see because many people have complaints in there–the back of their neck, upper traps, jaw pain–related to not utilizing full range of motion of the joints.”
2. For those who want to prevent long-term joint degradation issues, what would you recommend?
“Make sure you’re brushing and flossing the joints in your body,” offers Jill. “Which means you’re taking them through range of motion in all the different ways they’re meant to move. Do that both in a dynamic strength manner, isometric strength, different modes of stretch, and in marshaling the mobility of the soft tissues in and around the joints by using our therapy balls. Use therapy balls to massage the tissues that are a part of the joint complex.”
How does all this improve your joint function?
“Your joints have extrasensory powers with the type of mechanoreceptors located there. So there’s an accrued benefit to addressing the language of your joints, to addressing their articulations in all of these different ways. That will ensure that you maintain the mobility that nature has designed for your body for this lifetime.”
Um. That’s awesome. Do most fitness systems address this depth of joint care for our bodies?
“Your body is your body whether you’re putting it into CrossFit or yoga or pilates or doing triathlons. Each of those systems, while they might market themselves as complete, has a bias toward different aspects of joint motion and joint mechanics. So you want to cross-train your joints.”
3. For those who are starting to feel joint pain, what do you recommend?
“There are different types of joint pain because there are different types of joints,” explains Jill. “I think when people are thinking of their ‘joints’ they’re most often thinking about hips, shoulders, knees, hands and feet–highly moving joints.
“When we have joints that have a high amount of synovial fluids that’s a part of the joint capsule, that synovium is hyaluronan–that hyaluronan is produced through movement. Movement produces the oil slick in your joints. So if you’re not moving much, there is a reduction in that fluid. Then your bones don’t glide as well and can cause friction, which precedes joint disease like arthritis.”
Oh, bummer. So how does movement fit in again?
“Movement is just so critical for the health of joints,” says Jill.
“Then there’s [also] too much movement. Too much hyaluronan and too much repetitive action in the joints reduces the health of the cells that produce the hyaluronan because those tissues are getting overused and exhausted. So there’s a problem with degradation of hyaluronan and that ends up becoming a condition where the bone no longer has its right protection.
“So too much movement or too little movement affects the fluid environment of the joint.”
Got it. And what about if the joint isn’t in pain, but clicks or just feels funny? Did you have pain before your hip replacement?
“Not hurting doesn’t mean no problem,” shares Jill.
“The “owey” kind of pain isn’t the only warning sign–and this takes us into the biopsychosocial model of pain–because I didn’t have pain. My hip joint was never painful. It was a muscle called the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) that was the ‘canary in the cole mine’ that I would have infrequent spasms in for the seven years preceding me getting the MRI.
“I’d have spasms in TFL at night–it was trying to hold the hip together. Or I was overusing it during the day as a main hip flexor rather than accessory.”
4. For people who have a joint surgery coming up, what do you recommend to help them prepare?
“I think one of the most important things for [a healthy post-surgery] recovery is ‘pre-covery’” offers Jill. “When you know you are going to go under the knife is not the time to just let your body go weak and not do anything. You want to make sure that you are trying to stay as strong as you possibly can in the muscles that surround your joint and in your whole body, so you have very good blood flow going into surgery.”
That makes a lot of sense. Is this what you did leading up to your hip replacement?
“I lifted weights the day before I went into surgery and I was not crippled by my issues. Many people, as they go into surgery are functionally so unhealthy because of the pain in their joints. But as much movement as you can muster is critical in the pre-recovery stage. I would encourage people to do as much as they feel that they can do leading up to it.”
5. For those who recently had major joint surgery, and want to participate in their own rehab, how can they make the new joint as healthy as possible moving forward?
“It’s important to listen to movement precautions of surgery,” says Jill. “You will get a sheet and you really need to respect that because it has to do with the type of prosthesis that is given–the replacement or whatever other type of surgery you had. Those precautions are critical–especially in long term. You will want to share them with every single movement instructor or clinician that you encounter so that you’re safe in the context of exercise and movement.
“Get empowered by getting informed. If you’ve had any surgery of any kind and you don’t know what those movement precautious are, you should go back and look at the record.”
How will knowing the precautions help people who’ve had major joint surgeries in the past?
“This information will empower you to not live in fear of your body and fear of what you can and can’t do,” states Jill. “Then when you are able to communicate about those precautions to the experts that you’re relying on for programming and movement it’s very freeing.
“This is something I come across again and again–people don’t know their movement precautions. As their teacher I do not want to carry that burden. They need to figure that out.”
Katy Bowman often talks about how you ‘wear your body’. Jill encourages people with joint replacements to also ‘wear the prosthesis with integrity’.
“There are decades and decades of adaptations that happen to your body while you’re wearing out a joint leading up to needing a joint replacement,” Jill continues. “Conditions in your body that are making that joint bear the brunt of forces and its deterioration. Then there are the years post-op where you’re also wearing yourself in a new way. And if you’re never taught some fundamentals of movement you’re very likely to just go back into the pattern that got you there in the first place.”
This is why both Jill and Katy recommend bringing plenty of healthy movement back into play for people who have finished working through doctor-prescribed PT protocol after a surgery. This way the miracle of modern science can support you moving into the future with confidence and possibility.
Upon reflecting on her own hip surgery, Jill shares, “I have a second chance to live in my body in a new way.”
Let the dynamic aging begin.
You want to dig deeper into self-care fitness and self-massage practices? Check out the Tune Up Fitness® Hips Immersion Training and dedicate three days to refining your embodiment of the pelvis, hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet.
Author: Ariel Kiley
Related Article: Surprise, Surprise! You need a Total Hip Replacement!
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