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Joint Mobility and Stability Exercises

November 17, 2010

By Gerard Bochese

Last week we discussed the importance of joint mobility and stability and how one joint affects the joint above or below it.  We listed which joints needed to be mobile and which needed to be stable.  This week we will discuss some exercises to help with the mobility and stability issues.

As a side note, we need to remember there is a difference between joint mobility and general flexibility.  Mobility is the proper movement of the joint.  Flexibility is the range of motion around the joint.  For example, if someone has tight calves we need to examine the ankle joint and get some more mobility in that joint. If the joint is “stuck” it will be difficult to get flexibility into the calf muscle.

Ankle mobility exercises: Stand in front of a wall with your hands against the wall at shoulder height.  Place your right foot approximately one inch from the wall and your left foot behind you as if you are pushing the wall.  Keeping your right heel down, rock forward so that your right knee touches the wall.  Repeat 10x.  Slide your right foot slightly back and repeat, bringing the knee to the wall for 10 more reps. For the third time slide the right foot slightly back and repeat for 10 more reps. The right heel must remain in contact with the floor at all times.  Repeat 3 sets for the left foot.

Knee stability exercises: To create stability we must do strength work.  Focus on single leg unsupported exercises. Perform an anterior reach.  Stand on your right foot with your left foot elevated off of the floor.  Bend the right knee as if you are doing a single leg squat, reaching your left hand toward to a spot on the ground or a cone or water bottle placed in front of you.  The left leg can extend behind you to counter balance the forward reach of the hand.  Perform 10-15 reps and repeat for the other leg.

Hip mobility exercises: The key to hip mobility is to get the right muscles of the hip to move the hip joint and to decrease the movement of the lumbar spine as a substitute for hip movement.  Perform a rocking quadruped.  Kneeling on all fours and keeping your abdominals tight and not arching your back, try to disassociate your hips from your lumbar spine and rock your butt back so that it touches your heels.  Move your butt forward and repeat for 10 reps.  Perform 2 sets.

Lumbar spine stability exercises: Perform a quadruped.  Kneel on all fours.  Keeping the abdominals and low back muscles stable and tight, extend the right arm and left leg so that your body is balanced on 2 points, the left hand and right knee.  Pause in the extended position and repeat for 10-15 reps.  Repeat for other arm and leg.

Thoracic spine mobility exercises: If the thoracic spine is locked up, you will twist either at the neck or the lumbar spine and thus create compensation pain at these areas. To create mobility, perform a thoracic twist. Kneel with your butt sitting on your heels.  Place both hands behind your head and twist through your shoulders to the right.  At the end point, bend your upper body so that your right elbow is pointing toward the ground, hold for 5 seconds.  Repeat for 5 reps trying to twist a little further each time. Perform 5 reps twisting to the left.

Shoulder stability exercise: Perform box walk-ups. Place a six-inch box in front of you and assume a push-up position in front of the box.  Keeping the core tight and not allowing the shoulder blades to collapse in, walk up and down the box using your hands.  Place the right hand on the box then the left.  Take the right hand off the box than the left.  Perform 10 reps.  Repeat, leading with the left hand.

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