Your Aching Joints
Thursday, January 15, 2015 04:38 PM

Most injuries to joints occur because of abnormal stresses. A joint can be injured acutely from a single traumatic event. An ankle sprain is a classic example. The ankle joint is protected by ligaments on the inside and outside. When the ankle moves excessively inward, the ligaments on the outside of the joint are torn. The ankle swells, leading to bruising and pain. In some cases, small pieces of bone and cartilage may be torn away. The tibia and/or fibula (ankle bones) can also be fractured.

Other joint injuries are called repetitive-stress injuries or cumulative-trauma disorders. These injuries are the result of repetitive, small, abnormal stresses on joints. The stresses placed on joints by poor posture, poor joint position during a task, and/or poor workstation ergonomics make these joints more likely to be injured.

There are three basic principles that are especially important when considering the impact of proper joint movement:

     1. When lifting an object, be sure that the largest muscles in the area perform the task. The larger the muscle or muscle group utilized for lifting, the less stress on smaller, more vulnerable muscles and the joint itself.

     2. During any activities, you should be able to comfortably assume several different postures to avoid staying in one posture for extended periods. Muscles will fatigue and joints are more likely to be injured when you hold a particular posture, especially a poor one, such as staying partially bent forward at the waist.

     3. When performing tasks, keep the joints that are being used either in their neutral posture or approximately halfway into the range of motion. Working with your joints at the extremes of their ranges of motion for prolonged periods places abnormal stresses on those joints. That can result in repetitive-stress injuries.