Playing the Percentages

When considering how the body moves, it may do well to think of it in terms of percentages. To travel in the most efficient manner from point A to point B, every joint must participate at an ideal percentage. Typically the larger the joint, the higher percentage of motion. The smaller the joint, the less of a percent of movement. Regardless of which joint does what, the sum of all joint motion always adds up to 100%. That means if one joint is unable to move to the degree it should, another joint will need to increase its percentage to reach 100%. This is also known as compensation.

The joints which have a greater degree of motion are normally the hips, shoulders, mid-back, and ankles. However, it is quite common for an individual to have restriction in the muscles which surround some of these joints. For instance, overly tight chest muscles restrict joint motions of the shoulders and mid-back and will often demand a higher degree of motion from other joints nearby (such as the elbows, wrists, and neck). Overly tight hamstring muscles will restrict joint motion of the hips and knees and demand a higher degree of motion from its neighboring joints (such as the knees, ankles, and vertebrae of the low back). Overly tight calf muscles will limit ankle motion and demand more from the neighboring knees or feet. The compensations do not just occur at neighboring joints but have the potential of occurring anywhere in the body. Sometimes they occur in the most obscure places. Like when the big toe gets stubbed and becomes limited and forces the shoulder to move more. A broken thumb may require the neck or shoulder to do more.

Most times the shifting of percentages is subtle, but other times it appears quite obvious such as when someone limps. Regardless of the degree of percentage altering, the closer a person can achieve ideal joint motion and reduce compensatory patterns, the less likely is the chance of injury.

Here is a list of potential issues and injuries that may appear when adaptations to posture become distorted and joint motion is compromised:

  • Bursitis and Tendinitis (wrists, elbows, shoulders, etc.)
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Knee Pain
  • ACL Tear
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Low Back Pain
  • Herniated or Ruptured Discs
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Migraines/Headaches
  • Tennis and/or Golfer’s Elbow
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dizziness
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes

How many of us seek medical attention and pain medication address this issue when all that is really needed is better movement? You may be surprised to know that the nagging problems are simply because the body has forgotten how to move well. Perhaps it’s time for a little personal training at our place?