I recently received a sweet email from a 61 year old woman who explained that, although she’s been doing yoga for about a year and loves exercising, she wakes up stiff and achy every morning. She asked if maybe she’s doing the wrong stretches…
So, I wanted to clear up a little confusion. If you’re waking up stiff and achy, it’s likely your joints and not your muscles that are the problem. Stretching focuses on soft tissue (your muscles) and doesn’t have a great effect on your joints, other than lengthening the muscles surrounding a joint.
Joints are rich in tiny cells called proprioceptors. These guys basically keep us from walking into walls (hopefully) and from sticking our fork in our eye when we’re trying to eat. They tell your body where it is in space, how you’re moving, how much you’ve stretched a muscle, etc.
When your joint is screaming in pain, it’s getting a signal from a kind of nerve called a nociceptor, a type of proprioceptive nerve found in joints. However, joints have far more mechanoreceptors, or nerves that sense motion and touch, than it does nociceptors, and mechanoreceptors send signals to the brain much faster and clearer than nociceptors.
Therefore, by stimulating the joint mechanoreceptors, you will effectively eliminate joint pain, mostly because you have far more “noise” coming from the mechanoreceptors than you do the nociceptors, so the brain never even hears the pain signal.
How do you stimulate those mechanoreceptors, you ask? Excellent question.
Dynamic joint mobility drills – exercises that take a joint through full range of motion in an active manor, meaning that you do the moving and not somebody else – are the best way to stimulate your joints’ mechanoreceptors, eliminate pain and increase the flow of synovial fluid inside the joint which acts like a natural form of WD-40, lubricating your joints’ movements.
Static stretching as is done in yoga can’t hold a candle to the pain reducing properties of dynamic joint mobility and, best of all, you only need 15-20 minutes a day to get results.
So, where can you find these amazing joint mobility drills? Z-Health has an excellent beginner’s DVD with basic joint mobility exercises you can do at home in your living room. They’re simple and clearly explained, so even if you’ve never tried joint mobility exercises before, you’ll be able to follow along.
Click here to visit the Z-Health website and learn more about dynamic joint mobility. I suggest you start with the R-Phase DVD, the first tier of their program designed to rehabilitate aching and injured joints.