Joint Health: More Than The Absence of Pain

We recently performed a “Hero workout” in the gym known as “Loredo.” It’s a fairly simple workout to complete. Simple. Not easy. It is 6 rounds of 24 air squats, 24 push-ups, 24 walking lunges (each step is one rep) and a 400m run. As we were performing the workout, I noticed someone performing the air squats to an elevated height, purposely skipping out on the full range of motion. This was discussed with the Coach and there was nothing wrong with this scaling option but it did dawn on me: 

Was the athlete convinced that this shortened range of motion was better for their knees because it ensured it would keep them pain free? If so, then nothing could be further from the truth. 

If all you told me about a joint on your body (shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist, hips, ankles) was that it was pain-free, I would still know nothing about how healthy you are. A pain-free joint alone is NOT a healthy joint. I’m gonna say it again. A pain-free joint does NOT signify a healthy joint. There’s more information needed. Why? 

Well, let’s take my 96-year-old grandmother, for example. She lives in an assisted living community and regularly takes whatever meds they give her to keep her pain free. I’m sure when on these meds she feels no pain in her knees or hips. However, the other day, when she was trying to put her bed sheet on her bed, she fell and broke her wrist. Don’t worry, she’s fine. The point stands though that just because her joints were pain free did not mean they were healthy. A healthy leg supported by good knee and hip function would have been fast enough to get her foot back down quickly to stop the fall. 

Pain-free CAPACITY is what determines a healthy joint. Can you squat to FULL DEPTH pain free? Congratulations, you have healthy knees, hips and ankles. Can you put something all the way above your head pain free? Congratulations, you have healthy wrists and shoulders. Can you lift something from the floor with a straight back pain free? Congratulations, you have a healthy spine. 

The further the capacity of your joints pain free, the greater the health. You have a back squat that is double your bodyweight? I don’t have to worry about your knees, ankles, or hips for quite some time. You can press 75% of your bodyweight above your head pain free? I’m not gonna worry about your wrists or shoulders. 

The medicated, pain free, can’t do anything after 50 life that pharmaceutical companies want for people is NOT a healthy life. It’s healthy for their bottom line. The absence of pain means nothing. 

What do you have the capacity and ability to DO pain free? If I meet someone over 65 and they tell me they can squat to full depth, press completely overhead, and deadlift, I don’t really care what their cholesterol levels are. If I meet someone over 65 and they are completely pain free but have to use a wheelchair at the grocery store, I don’t care that they have perfect blood pressure numbers. I know that someone has to be at their at home with them to help them do simple daily tasks. 

Aim for pain-free CAPACITY. Not just pain free. 


To learn more about how you can achieve pain-free capacity, set up a time to talk with us.

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