Adding Flex

Dr. Walter Bortz, is the author of The Road to 100, a book about how to live a longer healthy life. Dr. Bortz is in his 80’s and continues to run marathons as he has for the past 40 some years. We asked him how he kept the marathon stresses from causing joint problems. His response was simple: “I have great body mechanics.”

Although many things go into body mechanics Dr. Bortz explained that the main mechanic of low stress running is taking shorter, low stepping strides. Longer, higher strides cause the landing foot to come down with greater force, and those repeating forces shudder their way up your body starting with ankles, then knees, then hips, then vertebrae. Over time that can result in cumulative damage to joints. Efficient runners keep those forces to a minimum by controlling their stride.

As a MoveSmart® trainer, you won’t be giving lessons on marathon running, but you may want to make suggestions for reducing stresses and strains on joints – a potential problem for anyone doing physical work – especially for more “mature” workers. You might include a brief comment on being kind to joints and during the MoveSMART® demonstrations point out the value of keeping joints flexed when they are stressed.

Encourage people to keep some flex in elbow and knee joints when exerting forces when pushing, pulling, or lifting. It may be tempting to lock arms or legs straight when doing so, but it doesn’t make a person stronger, and on the negative side, causes the shock to go straight into shoulders, elbows, knees, or hips. By flexing those joints slightly, the forces be absorbed with some give while not compromising strength.

You can follow-up MoveSMART® demonstrations by asking the group what kind of activities they do where straightening the leg, shoulder or arm joints could be tempting.

The above discussion might be used to augment a discussion about Line-of-Power.

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