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The Importance of Addressing Mobility and Stability

As physical therapists, we see this scenario play out all too often: you feel pain and the stretching and strengthening you do is focused solely on that painful area. However, this only solves part of the problem and does not address a key fact: the joints in our body have a relationship. They pick up the slack for each other when our mobility or stability is impacted in a particular area.

Here’s an example of how this plays out. When a patient comes in because of lower back pain, we evaluate that area as well as the surrounding muscle groups. We teach them the effect that hip strength and flexibility have on their back muscles and therefore, as we treat them for their back pain, we are also exercising their hip.

Remember that song ‘the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone…’ and so on and so forth. It’s a catchy children’s tune that also paints a pretty comprehensive picture of the relationship between the various joints in our bodies.

Each joint has a primary function or movement to perform. Mobility is the range of motion a particular joint should be able to move through. For example, your knee bends and extends a certain degree.

Mobility is different from stability. Stability implies that the joint needs to be supportive, steady and solid. In other words, that joint needs to be a good foundation for the surrounding muscles.

Joints will alternate between their need for mobility and their need for stability. That means when we are injured or feeling any kind of pain, the surrounding joints will have to compensate and are forced to pick up the slack for that injured body part. A stable joint will have to become more mobile than it did before.

Here are some examples of how this works:  

  1. When you lose ankle mobility, you will get knee pain.  
  2. When you lose hip mobility, you will feel pain in your lower back.  
  3. When you lose mobility in the middle part of your back, you will feel pain in your lower back, your neck, and your shoulder.

Physical therapy evaluations are comprehensive because when you have pain in one area, we need to evaluate more than just that area of the body. We will always look at the joints above and below the area where the patient says they are feeling the most pain. We make sure that we perform a full body assessment. Many times, there is a fix in focusing on increasing the mobility of the nearby joint. We always want to make sure that your joints are working in the most fluid way possible – we’re functional movement specialists for a reason!

If you are feeling any kind of pain or trying to recover from an injury, Loudoun Sports Therapy Center can help.  Our trained specialists work together as a team to design a treatment plan that will help you achieve your personal goals. Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY, 703-450-4300, and set up your personalized evaluation.

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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