Much evidence points to the fact that lack of proper movement in the joint leads to degenerative arthritis in that joint. Our modern sedentary lifestyles are the likely culprit. Sitting prevents proper movement in our spine, hips and knees and we are sitting more now than ever before in history. So it stands to reason that we will see an increase in arthritis in these joints as we age.
However, the idea that arthritis is just a normal part of aging is inaccurate. But sadly, this is believed by many people. If it were true, than why do so many people have arthritis in only one knee and not the other? Surely, their knees are the same age, right?
It seems silly when put in those terms, but the reality is that conditions like arthritis are often chalked up to aging and given an “ah-well, there’s-nuthin’-I-can-do-about- it” attitude. We then become complacent victims of our aging bodies.
Dr. Ian Wallace of Harvard University recently studied over 2,000 skeletons to look at prevalence of arthritis. He found that our rates are double that of people living in the mid-20th century. He even controlled for the fact that we are living longer today and have higher rates of obesity (another factor in arthritis).
Based on his research, Dr. Wallace agrees that lack of physical activity is the most likely reason for the increased rates of arthritis we see today.
What’s the Solution?
Move and move often.
It is vitally important that we counter the effects of being sedentary. Our time spent sitting takes a toll on our joints leading to this degenerative arthritis. So moving our joints is crucial.
I hate to break it to you, but the 90 degrees of movement that occurs when we sit down and stand up is not the full range of motion in our hips! The “use it or lose it” principle applies here to some extent. If we are not moving in the other degrees of movementon a regular basis we will lose the ability to do so.
Take a hinge on a gate. Leave it exposed to the elements and do nothing to it and it becomes rusty and immoveable. But once you begin moving the rusty hinge, something happens. At first it creaks and groans, but the more it is moved, it eventually functions better. (Imagine if it was oiled, moved and maintained on a regular basis!) The articulations (joints) of our body are much the same. If they are not moving often enough, they become restricted.
This leads to the wear and tear called arthritis.
There are a couple types of movement, generally speaking. Exercise and individual joint movement. Obviously, exercise is crucial to your overall health and wellness. A daily movement practice is so important for so many reasons. What we don’t often think about is the individual joint movement. These small movements added together make up the larger movements we think of when we think about exercise. Throwing a ball, for example, involves much more than merely the shoulder joint. The individual knuckles and wrist joints flex and curl in order to grip the ball. The elbow joint flexes and tenses in order to take aim. The shoulder girdle (several joints) gives power and range of motion and of course the spine provides for rotation and stability as all these individual actions are taking place.
So every exercise involves many smaller actions. These micromovements dictate the quality of the macromovement – what we typically think of as exercise.
Let’s say a joint in the middle of our back becomes “rusty” and fixated. We may still be able to walk, run and do yoga, but that individual joint is not receiving the movement it requires. How do we restore function to this dysfunctional joint?
Chiropractic adjustments. The adjustment specifically restores function to a dysfunctional joint and allows for more freedom of movement when performing any exercise. So although both forms of movement are crucial, the exercise will be even more beneficial once the individual joint dysfunction has been corrected. Oh yeah, and that ominous condition called arthritis? That is less and less “inevitable” as we move our body. Someone once said that “we don’t stop moving because we get old, we get old because we stop moving.”
Maybe you’ve never thought of chiropractic being helpful this way. That’s okay – many people don’t. But only getting adjusted for pain relief means missing out on getting adjusted for optimal function. If you have arthritis or are concerned about your ability to exercise effectively, it’s time for us to chat! Call us at 651-406-4454 or make an appointment online. Until then…