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The Leg Bone’s Connected to the Knee Bone

The joints in our body have a relationship.  A “joint” refers to any location in the body in which two bones meet together.  They pick up the slack for each other when our mobility or stability is impacted in a particular area.  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. Joint mobility refers to the joint being able to move without being restricted by the surrounding tissues.  For example, your knee bends and extends a certain degree.

Mobility is different from stability.  Stability is derived from the root word “stable,” meaning being firmly fixed and 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.

It is best to address any kind of pain or limitation in movement right away to avoid these issues from leading to additional pain and restriction in other parts of the body.  It would be a shame to not be able to garden this summer season because you are experiencing too much pain in your back and hip area.

Let’s take a look at mobility.  First, let’s look at the joint that attaches the head to the neck: the atlanto-occipital joint. When it comes to the cervical spine, as in the neck, immobility can be quite dangerous and lead to compensatory problems. For instance, let’s take a look at something as simple as driving. When navigating a vehicle, it is extremely important to be able to monitor all sides of the vehicle. Imagine driving down the highway and wanting to switch lanes, but not having the rotation to look and create a safe lane change. Not only are you endangering you and your passengers, but you are also at risk of seriously hurting others in the other car and even worse, those around the scene.

Let’s move on to stability. With the average human head weighing roughly 10-11 pounds, it is vital that the surrounding structures provide ample stability. Think about infants and their inability to hold their head up, or to the side. They haven’t quite built up the strength to provide the stability needed, which is why those who hold them always support their heads. The cervical vertebrae, intervertebral discs, musculature, and ligaments all play a vital role in forming the stability needed to stabilize the head. The vertebrae, align the spinal column creating the foundation for the bones, while the discs allow for stable, smooth movement, and the muscles and ligaments provide additional stability while stationary and during movement.

It is very common to see lack of both joint mobility and stability in all areas as we age, due to the fact that we tend to become less active. When one is more active they are continuously going through different ranges of motion, which decreases joint stiffness. Muscle mass and strength also naturally decrease as we age, which lessens the support of the joint, leading to decreased stability. The shoulder is a perfect example. As we age, we tend to do less strenuous activities, such as reaching overhead, directly correlating to the inability to get their arms higher than shoulder height. And there you have Adhesive Capsulitis, also known as “frozen shoulder”. This condition could also be present due to the surrounding tissues lack of strength. Let’s all go back to our childhood and imagine the stuffed animals or dolls we played with. We could move those toys’ arms and legs through any motion, however they didn’t have the strength to do it on their own.  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

****Physical therapy can help you get back to running those marathon races and driving to work with no more pain, or restriction.****

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center during your Evaluation our Physical Therapists will always look at the joints above and below the area where the patient says they are feeling the most pain and create an individualized treatment plan specific to your needs and 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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