Performance Post Issue #22 – Understanding Joints

Before we get to this issue’s training topic, Understanding Joints, I have a few short news updates- – First off, the DVD updates Membership site is up and running. I need everyone who filmed testimonials to send them to me by Oct 31st. Please send them to my personal email at . – As soon as I receive your videos, I will send you a username and password to get instant, lifetime access to this exclusive website. – If you are not sure what DVD updates is, go here… after reading the rest of this newsletter of course! – Secondly, on fridays, I will be mixing things up a bit from the normal training information, in favor of something slightly more entertaining. – Starting next week, my Friday Blog posts will include song recommendations of what myself and the athletes here at Performance U are listening to while we train. I’ll be providing you with some of my favorite quotes and hitting you with random things I’ve discovered or find interesting. – I think this Friday thing will be a great way to add some entertainment and fun to the Blog. – Finally, I will also be doing product reviews on occasion. Yes, in upcoming Blog posts, you will get my 100% honest opinion on the industry’s latest books, videos and seminars. – Now, onto our topic of discussion- –

Understanding Joints

Joints– These days, many coaches (myself included) are talking about utilizing methods that spare the joints while maximizing muscle recruitment. I personally call this concept Joint Friendly Training. – The concept of Joint Friendly Training (JFT) is extremely important for all fitness trainers and sports coaches to understand and utilize. That said, in order for you to understand how to spare the joints, you must understand some fundamental concepts about how joints function. –

What is good Joint function?

All joints are- –       Avascular –       Highly viscoelastic –       Well suited for compressive loading –       Thrive with activity -Designed to function at mid-range – Get nutrition from compressive loads (avascular) -Therefore must regularly move through a full ROM . To elaborate on these bullet points above, joints are designed to move  and NEED to be moved on a regular basis to get nutrition and stay mobile and strong. That said, the only time you should not move is due to injury or a limitation. In other words, telling a healthy athlete to never move a specific part of his or her body goes against the design of the joints. Plus, regularly not moving a part(s) of your body, doesn’t do much to improve sports performance as most sports require dynamic movement and force transfer. – Contrary to common belief, Joints do not wear out simply by normal use. In fact, joints get healthier when you use them by developing thicker and healthier cartilage in response to good use (aka – mechanically sound movement). – However, joints DO wear out as a byproduct of disuse. This is precisely why we need to train – to prevent disuse by practicing and strengthening optimal movement patterns. –

It’s All About Force!

– We know that the human body MUST move to improve. In other words, WE NEED FORCE! –

The Problem!

– The trouble is, we know force can also cause injury. Whether it be from repetitive stress or dealing with a high load – force can hurt us. –

The Solution!

– The solution to this force conundrum is simple!… Find each individuals limits. – As trainers and S&C Coaches, it’s our job to to use whatever is within our skill sets of assessments and screening to find the optimal loading zone for each individual. – hans selye – Put simply, we need to create enough stress to keep  tissues healthy but not enough to make it break down. As the brilliant Hans Selyesays  “ we need stress, without distress” – Unfortunately, because many of us have different backgrounds, experiences, work settings and approaches to training. We debate about the specific measures that should be taken in order to minimize risk and maximize benefit. In other words, the debate is how we each interpret stress vs. distress. This is where the entire lumbar flexion good or bad debate stems from. – Additionally, because joints can function at end range, but are designed to primarily function at mid-range. We must train predominantly within the mid-range in order to truly be joint friendly. Any exercise that loads end ranges should be considered more risky than one performed at mid-range. –

3 Requirements to Normal Joint Function

. There are three requirements to normal, healthy joint function. These are as follows; .

–       Joint Stability

–       Freedom of movement

–       Proper load distribution

. With the above three requirements in mind, Its easy to see that as Coaches, trainers and therapists we need to; .

-Strengthen  (build stability)

-Stretch/Mobilize  (develop freedom of movement)

-Functionally Retrain  (proper load distribution)


Which Methods are Best to Use?

– Now that you understand joints, how they function and how we as fitness professionals can keep them healthy, it’s time to briefly talk about training methods. – As you learned above, in order for joints to remain healthy, they need to be moved regularly through a full range of motion. This means moving through all ranges, even end range. That said, to avoid injury, its best to do any exercise that utilizes end ranges,  in low load manners such as mobility drills, stretches, bodyweight exercises, dynamic warm up protocols and even taking a yoga class. All these end- range type protocols should be performed less often with much less volume than other methods. – As also stated above, joints are designed to function predominantly in more neutral ranges of motion. Therefore, when we use loaded exercises performed for repetitions (higher volume), like weight lifting and power training, we are best to stay within the mid ranges and avoid end ranges to reduce risk of overloading the tissues and causing injury. –


– As you have learned above, it easy to understand how to keep joints healthy and train safely when you understand the basics of joint function. I hope these simple descriptions and training recommendations have helped you build a better understanding of how to practice smarter, more joint friendly Strength & Conditioning programs. – –

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