Understanding Our Favorite Joint Health Modalities
Video by TJ O’Brien

At Invictus, one of our core values is to always be learning – from experts in our field, from each other, from any modality that we believe will help improve the health and happiness of our members.

One of the common goals we’ve heard from many of our clients is the desire to eliminate – or at least minimize – pain. This mobility stuff is new to a lot of people – heck, a lot of it is new to most coaches. Those who have spent many years as athletes or being hard on their bodies with their work, and even those who have lead a more sedentary life sitting at a desk, are now finding that all those years are catching up with them. And it hurts!

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting approximately 27 million Americans. The ever growing research continues to credit strength training and daily movement as the best way to combat OA and many other common conditions.

Being in pain is no way to live, so we’ve been incorporating three joint health modalities in our group classes and private sessions and have seen great success in joint range of motion, functionality, and reduction of pain with those members who have taken part.

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you probably noticed us sharing some of the stretches and drills from our three favorite joint health modalities – ELDOA, Functional Range Conditioning (FRC), and Kinstretch. Each modality performs a different function for your joints and each has its proper uses and benefits. Learn a little more about them and check out an example of each below.

ELDOA

ELDOA (Étirements Longitudinaux avec Decoaptation Ostéo Articulaire), or more easily translated to Longitudinal Osteo-Articular Decoaptation Stretching.

ELDOAs are postural self-normalizing techniques designed for widening the space within a chosen articulation (the space between your vertebra). This is accomplished by creating fascial tension to fix the vertebra below and contraction in extreme range to normalize the vertebra above the targeted disc. ELDOA postures are very specific compared to other techniques. Disc compression existing at any level of the spine can be addressed through a specific ELDOA exercise.

The flexibility gains from Myofascial stretches can help improve your joint mobility and overall health. As the quality of your tissue improves with the stimulus created by the Myofascial Stretches, you’ll find that you have better posture, greater range of motion, that you are able to perform tasks with greater ease, and you’ll suffer fewer injuries.

Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)

FRC focuses on increasing the amount of USABLE motion that one possesses across a particular articulation (joint). The more mobile a person is, the more they are able to maximize their movement potential safely, efficiently, and effectively.

Mobility, in an FRC sense, is defined as STRENGTH + CONTROL in order to expand upon usable ranges of motion, articular resilience (i.e. load bearing capacity), and overall joint health. The idea is that there’s no benefit and likely detriment, to stretching your body into positions with a tool – like a band – that it can’t naturally hold itself in, because you don’t have strength and control in that position.

For example, you can test a joint’s range of motion (ROM) by doing controlled articular rotations (CARs), a tool of FRC.

Kinstretch

Kinstretch is often times referred to as strength training for your joints. It incorporates principles from FRC but takes it a step further by strengthening those new ranges of motion. So you can test and lubricate joints with CARs (a tool found under FRC), then perform a Kinstretch for that joint, then retest and set the new ROM with CARs.

This is where Kinstretch comes in. Besides giving you more useable joint ROM, thereby increasing lubrication of that joint and decreasing pain of that joint, the improved ROM helps ensure you won’t injure other areas due to improper movement patterns from not having the ROM you need to move safely and efficiently.

An example of this would be PAILs & RAILs contractions at your end ROM that both increase it and also give you control in your new range. Progressive Angular Isometric Loading (PAILs) are isometric muscle contractions that strengthen the muscles placed on stretch. Stretching in this way helps teach your body that your end range of motion is safe. By driving a limb into an object and creating a strong muscular contraction – your nervous system realizes that the position is actually safe to be in. You can then set the new ROM in place with a Regressive Angular Isometric Loading (RAILs) contraction. These are isometric muscle contractions that strengthen the muscles on the closing side of the joint and allow you to pull yourself into a deeper stretch, thereby expanding your ranges.

Most people will have the greatest results from performing a combination of these modalities as they all work hand in hand to reduce pain by increasing joint ROM, lubrication, functionality and strength. You can find more videos from Coaches Nick & TJ on our YouTube Channel. Try them out and see what works for you!

Resources:
NIH Fact Sheet: Osteoarthritis
The ELDOA Method
Functional Range Conditioning
Kinstretch

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