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Increasing Flexibility & Mobility In Your Everyday Routine [E054]

Flexibility and mobility are the topics of this episode. This important conversation is with Dr. Michael Saint and Dr. Jason, both of The Wellness Connection. They are leading experts in all things mobility and flexibility. The aging process can cause rigidity in a lot of ways. Increasing and maintaining flexibility along with mobility during your lifetime can set yourself up for success in your older years. Discover why your body will thank you for moving and staying as active as possible.

Table Of Contents

Introduction To Flexibility And Mobility

Dr Bryan: Welcome back to the Wellness Connection Show. I’m Dr. Bryan Joseph and we are back in the studio with episode 54. We want to take a minute before we start this conversation to just thanking you in the episodes past for all the comments, suggestions and shares that you’ve given over this last 52, 53 weeks that we’ve published. Thank you for doing that.

Again and as you know, the whole reason that this podcast exists is to help more people get well and stay well. So thank you for being on the opposite end of this microphone. With that being said, I am in the studio today. I’m joined by Dr Jason Hamed.

Dr Jason: Hello everyone.

Dr Bryan: And Dr. Michael Saint.

Dr Michael: Hello. Thanks for having me.

Dr Bryan: So today we thought we would have a discussion around the aging process which causes a lot of rigidity in a lot of ways. So we wanted to really break down and have a discussion around the opposite of that, which was mobility and flexibility. The two doctors that are in the studio with me today specifically spent a lot of time working with patients and their physical bodies. And because of that I thought it would be of great value to have them join us and kind of just break down what do they see in patients that they’re working with and why people are becoming so stiff and broken down and degenerative.

Defining Flexiblity and Mobility

Defining Flexiblity and Mobility
Photographer: David Hofmann | Source: Unsplash

Dr Bryan: Flexibility makes me think of PE when I was a kid. I was sitting and stretching my feet, my hands past feet or something like that?

Dr Jason: The stretch test?

Dr Bryan: Yeah, the stretch test. How would you guys define mobility and flexibility? Because I just use those words a couple times, but how would you define that so that our audience listeners have an idea of what we’re about to talk about?

Dr Michael: I’d say mobility is important or is defined as the ability of a joint to move smoothly and freely through a full range of motion. So when we have rigidity or inability of those joints to move properly, it can be an issue with a lot of the soft tissue around the joints.

Dr Jason: I would say the same thing. It’s the ability to move a joint through a full plane of motion.

Dr Bryan: All right. I’ve got a little baby at home, you guys know, right? And you watch this little baby begin her movements at a young age that she can go through. I could probably – I wouldn’t do this, so don’t anybody come after me – but I can literally take her hand and her arm and twist it behind her back as if she’s like Gumby, right? Her joints and her bones are so flexible and pliable that it’s amazing to see.

Dr Bryan: And now I would fast forward that and say if you guys were in front of somebody that was in their seventies or eighties or nineties and you tried to do that, what would happen?

Dr Michael: They would break. Literally.

What Causes Immobility and Inflexibility

What Causes Immobility and Inflexibility
Photographer: Scott Webb | Source: Unsplash

Dr Bryan: In the patients that we’re typically working with or that you’re working with right now are coming in to work with you because their joints that are breaking down. Right? So what, first of all, aside from the aging process, what causes some of the stiffness to develop in the soft tissue?

Dr Jason: Well, not using it. I mean that’s the thing that we discuss a lot with our patients and I think that if you’re out there listening right now, if you don’t use the joint through a full range of motion, you lose the flexibility and mobility to use that joint through a full range of motion.

And the biggest culprit of this right now is how much we sit in our culture at our desks and commute, and at home. And then when we get home, we let watch TV for hours and then we lay in bed watching more TV or reading a book with pillows that are all propped up. Again, hunching us forward. We’re literally losing our ability to move our joints based on our lifestyles.

Dr Bryan: So what else, what else would you say causes a restriction or a thickening of the muscles throughout? You know, and I know obviously – you’re an athlete, you’ve had a lot of injuries, right? So speak and share to how these injuries and traumas can, can cause problems.

Dr Michael: I think the injuries play a big role in how we lose our flexibility. And a perfect example is recently I, I broke my ankle. You guys saw most of that.

Scar tissues and microtraumas

Dr Bryan: So you said two really important things and maybe Dr Jason, you could expand on these as well, He referenced immobility, which you talked about a minute ago, but he also said the word scar tissue. And scar tissue is, is like that. You know, we’ve all had scars. We skin ourself and when we develop a scar that that is a thicker sense of tissue. But when you have an injury underneath there, such as to your soft tissue, can you speak on the type of scar tissue that we don’t see, which happens underneath the skin and the muscle tissue and how that actually can create a problem for somebody.

Dr Jason: So as Dr. Michael alluded to, and even Dr. Bryan has alluded to is when you have trauma, not everyone gets the big trauma. So I took out a knife right now and, and if I cut you on the arm, you would bleed. And eventually former scar, we get that. Or if you had a nasty fracture like Dr. Michael had, where he broke multiple bones and tore a ligament, we already get that you can have some scar tissue around the muscles and the attendants, and it’s the same type of thing that you see on your skin, that really thick material that develops in the tendons and the muscles as well.

Ironically though, when we don’t move and when we have repetitive jobs, like some people who have a job where they’re doing the same motion or similar motions, thousands upon thousands of times in a day, believe it or not, we actually can create microtraumas that lead to more scar tissue.

How scar tissues affect flexibility and mobility

Dr Bryan: So, but in terms of mobility, if somebody has more scar tissue, does that mean better or worse? Mobility?

Dr Jason: Worse. Worse. Because the scar tissue acts like a restrictor, a governor, if you will. It doesn’t let them muscle fibers stretch to their fullest potential because of the damage.

Dr Bryan: Alright and here’s the beautiful part, and what I think you guys see so frequently it is like those TheraBands – the exercise bands that people have. There’s the blue one, the purple one, the black one, the red one, right? And they’re all different, like different circumferences. Some of them are really skinny and some of them are really thick. The skinny ones you can pull apart so easily. They bend and they pull and they stretch so far. The thick ones have a lot of resistance to them and they don’t really move very much. I think if we’re thinking about scar tissue developing in our muscles, the more scar tissue that you have, it’s almost like having a thicker one of those TheraBands. They don’t pull and similarly, your body doesn’t stretch or move as easily. Why does that even matter?

Dr Bryan: I think about this. Every muscle attaches to what bone, right? And if you are not able to move a muscle that’s attached to that bone very well or through its full range of motion, what is it that you see happen because of that?

Dr Michael: Arthritis starts.

You’ll never see flexibility and mobility leaving

Dr Jason: And the scary thing about mobility is it leaves us and we don’t realize it leaves us. That’s the scariest thing. It’s like heart disease for the muscles and you know you think that you’re moving great, but you’re really not. I can say that to a very strong level of confidence that majority people unless you’re actively working on improving your mobility throughout the week, you’re losing more mobility every week than you’re gaining.

But just because you can do your activities and you don’t notice it, doesn’t mean you’re not losing it. But we see it all the time, right? We see the guy who’s doing his normal routine. He’s going to work, he’s doing his 9 to 5 or 9 to 8, whatever the type of industry he’s in and working really hard and doing everything and then all of a sudden. …. while he loves his hobby of golf….

He love this hobby of playing men’s league hockey or whatever the case may be. He makes one move, and all of a sudden his body cannot support that, and he gets injured. Remember, when you can’t move the body through a full range of motion and you attempt to do it, the body will give you an injury so you don’t damage or tear something. If you damage or tear something, then you’ve really gone well beyond what your body could tolerate in the first place. But all the while, you are losing flexibility and mobility for you to be able to swing a golf club or a hockey stick, something that you may have done for decades before.

How To Improve Flexibility And Mobility Caused By Traumas And Injuries

How To Improve Flexibility And Mobility Caused By Traumas And Injuries
Photographer: Yayan Sopian | Source: Unsplash

Dr Bryan: Let’s just say that unfortunately, decades have gone by. I’ve been relatively immobile: I’ve accumulated a lot of microtraumas, I’ve played hard; I’ve had a lot of sports injuries, and now I’m in a situation where I don’t have full mobility. I don’t have very good flexibility. How can you guide me back to improving those things in my, from where I stand right now.

Dr Michael: I think an important place to start is finding a way to move your body more. So just finding a activity doesn’t have to be going to the golf course and playing 18 holes, hitting 300 balls or whatever, or going and jumping right into a basketball game, or a men’s league hockey game or whatever. I think just simply getting out and moving your body 20 minutes a day, getting some walking in, just starting doing something gradually progressing up towards finding your way into the gym and doing light weights and taking each individual joint of your body through a full range of motion and then adding resistance to it.

Dr Michael: That’s a huge part of it and then introducing different flexibility and stretching regimes throughout that and strategically placed in there. I think that’s a great starting place.

Dr Jason: I would agree. I’d echo what Dr. Michael just said it. I think the first thing is you have to start to move the body through its full range of motion and not just isolating. Not, I’m just going to do this pinky stretch. But instead what can I do? What are some activities I can do to start moving my body, every joint in my body, by asking my body to work together as a unit.

Start with yoga and foam rollers

Dr Jason: You know a great example is yoga. Yoga is a great form of exercise. It’s gained a ton of popularity over the last 20 or 30 years here in our culture but then has been practiced for hundreds and hundreds of years. But if you look at the poses of yoga, it takes you through full body movements, through full ranges of motion. And the cool thing about yoga is it’s scalable.

Dr Jason: And what I mean by scalable is you don’t have to be a 27 year old yogi to be able to pull this off. And we have many patients that started yoga in their sixties or seventies just to get their body moving. Tai Chi as another form of full body, low impact movement that activates all the joints through their natural planes of movement.

Dr Bryan: Where, where do other modalities come in to help that?

Dr Jason: I’m just going to go to that. So you can do some soft tissue mobility, for example, work at home with foam rollers. For those of you who aren’t aware, they’re high density foam, usually cylinders that you can roll your body on. We’ve now you can use lacrosse balls like a muscle mash balls. Those are basically large balls. Some of them are spiky, some of them are smooth, but the whole concept is you’re doing some self massage if you will, on the muscle groups at home massage therapy.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Dr Bryan: Let’s go deeper because I think that a lot of people go into physical therapy settings and then they end up having ultrasound or lasers are put on and all these different modalities. And you might not really know what they’re, what the purpose is.

Dr Michael: Well, I think one of my favorite modalities that I’ve seen used and used in the past is therapeutic ultrasound is one of my favorites. Just that deep heat that gets in there and releases all that scar tissue and releases the muscle and the connective tissue. It gets, it’s able to get in deeper than you can just do with a normal stretch or, mashing it with a ball or rolling on a foam roller. That personally is always been one of my favorites.

Dr Jason: I’m right with you. So everything that Dr Bryan said, a hundred percent agree with and also with Dr. Michael. It’s just there’s a sequence. I love heat. Heat allows the increase of blood flow to that tissue. You know, a cold laser, is designed to help again to open up the small arteries around the muscles to flush it with blood.

Dr Bryan: Cold lasers are not cold though. It’s a misconception.

Dr Jason: So cold laser and the wavelength of those lasers will actually go into the muscle and to help to dilate the blood supply. We’re flushing nutrients and blood and oxygen to the muscles so can get healed. Now, you know, as Dr. Michael said, you’ve got your ultrasound or some level of muscle stimulant to get in there to actually again push out some of the scar tissue.

Start Committing The Time

Start Committing The Time
Photographer: noor Younis | Source: Unsplash

Dr Jason: I will say this, I’m going into my 43rd year of life and I made a realization about three years ago. I recognized that as we are heading into our mid thirties and beyond, recovery and paying attention to flexibility and mobility, it becomes increasingly important. And I think that Dr. Michael and I have the benefit – good and bad – of seeing people who have committed to activity and stretching and those that haven’t that are in their sixties seventies and eighties or beyond.

And I can’t speak enough about how you really have to program this into your life like it. Yes, it’s important to go to the gym and lift weights. Yes, it’s important to to get some cardio and go for walks, but you hit that 35 year old threshold. It’s really, really important to start dedicating time, hours in the course a given week to making sure you can move because you just don’t realize you’re losing it.

Dr Jason: Like you just don’t feel it until it’s too late and it just takes little daily practice of 5 or 10 minutes of stretching, maybe an hour yoga class or working with a massage therapist or a stretching expert, one or two days a week, but it will pay dividends. I know I’m speaking personally, I’ve seen it in the last two years putting more focus into my flexibility and I’m not as sore. I can just only speak to that to everyone commit some time each and every day to improving your flexibility and then maybe a larger chunk of your day to an activity that forces you to become more flexible. Motion is life.

Closing Thoughts

Dr Bryan: Well, as we close this segment out there’s two things that I just want to say. Number one is an easy little implementable tip, and I know it’s happening less and less because everybody TiVos everything and they don’t watch TV with commercials as frequently as we did growing up. But if you’re watching a TV show and it’s got commercials, those commercials should act as a reminder for you to stretch for a couple of minutes. It doesn’t mean get up and go to the pantry to get the potato chips, but to stretch for a minute and a half. Oxygenate your muscle tissue and actually open up your joint space. The second thing that I want to say, and it’s not necessarily a tip, but it’s just identifying what was said in this conversation, is flexibility, is the fountain of youth in a lot of ways.

Dr Bryan: And if you’re not flexible, if you’re not mobile, then the likelihood of you actually maintaining or holding onto your youth as long as you would want to is very slim.

Hopefully you found some value in this conversation and we appreciate you. We always want to be here to help you with any of your health concerns or conditions that you have. So if you have anything that we want us to speak on or that you want us to share on, please just drop us an email. You’ll find the episode here at The Wellness Connection and we’re happy to hear your feedback.

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