Joint by Joint Approach

The joint-by-joint approach is a concept that takes the body as a whole and then breaks it down into individual regions of stability and mobility. 

Mobility is how far into a range of motion a person can move but while controlling it. Mobility= flexibility + control. Being flexible without the control can lead to instability and increase the risk of injury. Having control but no flexibility means you are stiff and cannot move as well as you should.

Stability is the ability to maintain a desired position while either staying still or maintaining control of a desired motion while moving.

Throughout the body, there is an alternating pattern between joints of stability and mobility. The ankle needs to be mobile, the knee needs to be stable, the hip needs to be mobile, meaning the low back needs to be stable, and so forth all the way up the kinetic chain of joints we go.

What can happen if the joints are not functioning as they should?

If our joints do not have these characteristics, they will start to function in a way different than what the specific joint was designed to do. Once this happens, it can be termed joint dysfunction. When we have some sort of dysfunction, our brain realizes this and creates some sort of compensation pattern within the body to accommodate the dysfunction and the ability to carry out daily movements, despite the fact it may be in a faulty manner.

Our bodies are excellent at compensating, creating new patterns to function and accomplish a task without thinking about long term consequences. Our bodies will compensate wonderfully until it doesn’t and this is usually when we experience pain or injury. When our joints do not function the way they should, whether short term or long term, our brains realizes this as a “threat”.  This turns on a response by either initiating pain and/or muscle tightness to bring awareness to the areas and prevent further movement, ultimately trying to reduce the potential risk of the threat. 

Through this Joint-by-Joint approach, we can see each joints primary need and their common tendencies of dysfunction.

Joint Primary Need Common tendency
Ankle Mobility Loss of movement
Knee Stability Loss of stability
Hip Mobility Loss of movement
Lumbar spine Stability Loss of stability
Thoracic spine Mobility Loss of movement
Cervico-Thoracic junction Stability Loss of stability
Upper Cervical Spine Mobility Loss of movement
Scapula Stability Loss of stability
Shoulder Mobility Loss of movement
Elbow Stability Loss of stability
Wrist Mobility Loss of movement

Having a practitioner who knows how the body is supposed to function and understanding that if there is an underlying dysfunction in one joint that can lead to pain somewhere else. This allows the skilled physician to properly asses and determine the root cause of the problem. 

If you are currently in pain or have experienced pain which seems to keep coming back; it’s time to get properly assessed so you can learn and understand why, as well as what you can do to control and manage it on your own, rather than chasing pain. 

What to take from this post:

  1. The joint-by-joint approach is a concept that breaks down the body into individual regions of stability and mobility. 
  2. Mobility is flexibility + control. Being flexible without the control can lead to instability and increase the risk of injury.
  3. Stability is the ability to maintain a desired position while either staying still or maintaining control of a desired motion while moving. 
  4. Understanding if there is an underlying dysfunction in one joint that can lead to pain somewhere else can help determine the root cause of the problem.

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