The easiest way to describe Joint Mobility is that it is the ability of the joint to move within its range. It is the range of uninhibited motion. This should not be confused with Joint Flexibility, which is to do with the joints ability to stretch (it’s absolute range of movement).
The Range Of Movement
Joint Mobility is different for everyone. The range of movement is limited by a number of factors:
- The joint itself (some joints favour stability over mobility i.e. shoulders);
- The joint capsule;
- Articulating surfaces (where two bones meet – some joints articulations only allow one type of movement i.e. the knee. Whereas others have a ball and socket joint allowing a wider range of movements i.e. the shoulders)
What Can Negatively Affect Joint Mobility?
Bad joint mobility can be caused by a number of different things. This causes the joint to be stiff/painful to move. Factors that can affect mobility are:
- Muscle/Fat Mass – too much surrounding the joint can literally block the movement of the joint;
- Body Asymmetry – Using one side of your body more than the other for certain tasks can cause asymmetry, one half of the body is dominate. The dominate side normally has less mobility;
- Illness/Injury – This causes the muscles around the injured area to contract to avoid more damage, limiting the joints mobility. Common examples include dislocation, arthritis and sprains;
- Not Exercising The Joint – If the joint is not used the muscles and connective tissues lose elasticity and flexibility, limiting joint mobility.
How To Help Joint Mobility
There are a number of ways you can improve your joint mobility. These include:
- Diet – a good diet is important for good joint mobility. Being overweight puts extra pressure on the joints. Also as stated above excess fat around the joint can limit the mobility;
- Exercise – this is important to keep the muscles and connective tissues of the joint flexible and elastic. If this isn’t done joints can become stiff. There are three exercises generally recommended to improve joint mobility:
- Foam Rolling;
- Mobility Drills.
- Supplements – these can help in a number of ways. For example Serrapeptase is an enzyme that digests proteins, it is believed to reduce inflammation around joints and so improve mobility.
Good joint mobility is important so that you can have a healthy, active lifestyle.