Mobility and movement are pretty important to the human body. If it does not move, it will seize up, quite literally. The axiom “use it or lose it” is very very true, and there is a reason for this.
I have recently heard a lot of people going on and on about something called the SAID principle. It is a simplified version of a much more complex physiological theory – SAID stands for Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. Very basically, if you make your body do something, then it will adapt to that input and will make the body better at what it does. Whatever you demand of the body, it has the capability to adapt to it (unless you go too far, and then it breaks, but we won’t worry about that for this particular blog).
So, where does mobility come into this, and what has all this got to do with it?
Talking about Adaptations to Demands, I’m not just thinking about aerobic fitness and getting yourself to the point where you can run up and down hills faster than someone else. I am thinking more about the mobility of joints. The majority of joints in the human body have a joint capsule surrounding them, and as such do not have a direct blood supply – so how do they get their nutrients? The capsule secretes something called synovial fluid which both provides the nutrients for the joint, and also helps clear away the debris and waste products of the joint.
HOWEVER. This only really happens if the joint is working and moving. It relies on something called the synovial pump to make all this happen. If the joint does not move, the synovial fluid inside does not wash over the articulating surfaces and does not feed them. The surfaces do not glide as well as they are meant to, and slowly and surely movement around the joint decreases.
Not only that, but the weight on the joint capsule deforms it, only for the capsule to reform when there is no pressure there. On weight-bearing limbs, this happens every step. Each time the joint bears weight, synovial fluid is pumped in and out of the area, washing it with new nutrients and taking away the waste of the area. Without this synovial pump, the area is stagnating and is not getting what it needs.
Lack of movement is a massive problem to joints, and it is by moving them that you will create better and easier movement.
Lack of movement begets lack of mobility. Keep moving. Keep mobile. It’s not just common sense, it’s science.
(As a final side note, Osteoarthritis is apparently caused by “wear and tear” on the joints. This is not bourne out by statistics or studies. You do NOT wear out your bones by running on them more or playing the piano more, or whatever. We still don’t know exactly WHAT causes Osteoarthritis, but that is a subject for a later blog).