Human joints come in different shapes and sizes, allowing us to move through everyday activities of daily life. Without the joints, there would be no way of bending our limbs, making us rigid and immobile. Injuries and disorders can cause this lack of movement for patients. About 80% of injury-related healthcare visits in the US result from patients injuring their musculoskeletal systems like bones, joints, and muscles. The most common injured parts include your knees, shoulders, ankles, and spine.
How do the joints work?
Your joints are designed to work with heavy loads placed on them, providing the full range of motion even at these times. They create a hinge-like system, appearing either as ball-in-socket joints (like the hips) or hinges like the knees and elbows. The spinal joints would be best described as “gliding joints,” which can move in any direction as needed.
Bone joints allow for movements, and the muscles pulling them produce that movement. Your bones are attached to the muscles via something called a tendon. Tendons must be strong enough to facilitate movement and compliance to prevent any muscle tissue damage. Ligaments are stiff structures that connect to your bones. They help prevent excessive movement of the joints, such as hyperextension, which can lead to injury.
Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments attach to and assist joints at specific positions and are shaped to fit perfectly at those positions. Fluid in the joints lubricates their surfaces, reducing friction and allowing for a lifetime of use.
What makes up a spinal disc?
A spinal disc is comprised of two parts – a large, outer-most, ligament-like part called the annulus fibrosus and an inner portion called the nucleus pulposis which is more gelatinous in texture. They are both fluid-based and rely on the body’s movement and imbibition for their health. Movement of the spine is another critical type of movement for keeping the spine healthy.
How can you keep joints healthy and strong?
The movements you perform daily are critical to your joint health, good nutrition, and exercise (with good lifting form) regularly. The healthier your overall lifestyle, the better your joints will perform throughout your life.
Regularly moving your joints through a full range of motion serves many purposes. Joints are not given blood by the vascular system directly like other organs.
Most of your joints are lined with cartilage – a firm yet pliable tissue-type covering bone surfaces and making up the joints. Cartilage is kept healthy by synovial fluid supplied into the joint through a process called imbibition.
Imbibition only occurs when movement is happening, making movement critical to joint health. When bone grinds on bone without cartilage, degenerative joint disease can result, leading to health issues like the destruction of the bones and development of cysts, bone spurs, and excessive bone production by the body.
The importance of nutrition for joint health
Good nutrition and diet contribute directly to joint health, providing joints with healthy nutrients they need for long-term resistance to wear and tear. A healthy lifestyle – free from toxins like nicotine, for example – helps ensure enough blood coming to the tissues around the joints, which speeds up the healing of injuries.
How do joint injuries happen?
Injury to your joints happens because unusual and sudden stress is applied to a typical joint. A joint can be injured slowly over time or acutely by a single event like a sprain or tear. The ankle, for example, is protected by ligaments on both sides of the foot. When it moves excessively in one direction or the other, the ligaments can be torn, leading to swelling, bruising, and pain. In some cases, a fracture can occur.
When an injury is not acute, it is usually the result of repetitive stress or cumulative trauma. These occur when small abnormal stresses happen repeatedly over long periods of time. Examples of this are poor posture, bad lifting technique, and lack of quality office ergonomics.
Prevention tips for joint injuries
There are three main concepts that you should keep in mind if you want your joints to be healthy over the course of your lifetime with minimized risk for injury and proper movement:
- Proper lifting technique – when lifting any object, whether it be large, small, heavy, or light, proper technique is essential to reduce the risk for injury. The larger the muscle group used to the lifting task, the more stress is placed on the joints and smaller muscles.
- You should avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time. Even a slight variation will be beneficial. You should be able to assume several positions while doing any given activity comfortably. When you stay in the same position for too long, the muscles will fatigue, and joints are more susceptible to injury. This effect is amplified further when the posture quality is lacking in the first place.
- When activating the joints for any task, keep them in their natural position or about halfway into their full range of motion. Operating joints at their extremes puts stress on them and can result in injury caused by repetitive stress.
Tips for lifting heavy objects with good form
Here are three easy-to-apply tips you can use to keep good posture and form while lifting heavy objects to minimize your risk of injury:
- Keep your spine straight and use your legs for the power needed lifting objects from the floor.
- Do not bend at the waist to use lower back muscles when lifting. That position leaves you prone to back injury.
- Keep objects you are lifting close to you.
- Keep elbows flexed.
- Keep your head and neck straight while lifting.
What should you do when experiencing pain?
If you are experiencing pain from anything we have mentioned here in this article, consult your local chiropractor. Chiropractors are trained to treat common musculoskeletal conditions like low back pain, neck pain, and joint pain. They help you choose the right combination of exercises and techniques to prevent injuries in the first place and get back on your feet in the best possible way.
Orlando chiropractors at Kirkman Chiropractic offer best-in-class musculoskeletal health treatments. Get in touch with Kirkman Chiropractic today. You can reach us here online or call us at (407) 291-1000. We can help you assess current and latent injuries and recommend the best course of treatment for you.
Chiropractor, Orlando FL
Kirkman Chiropractic is located just south of Colonial Drive on the corner of Kirkman Road and Washington Street.
Kirkman Chiropractic | Chiropractor Orlando | (407) 291-1000
Serving Central Florida, Southwest Orlando, Metro West,
Windemere, Ocoee, Winter Garden, and Pine Hills.