Monday, May 25, 2009

Opposite Joints: My elbow hurts, you want me to check my knee?

Here is a question I get a fair amount in relation to the location of pain / loss of function and where to look for a solution.

"He who treats the site of pain is lost" ---Karel Lewitt, M.D., Dr.

Just because you have a chronic shoulder issue does not mean that you can SOLVE that issue by working ONLY on the shoulder! The first place I would look is the opposite joint; so for a right shoulder I would check the LEFT hip. For a right elbow issue, I would check the LEFT KNEE.

The technical term is interlimb neural coupling (see reference below).

How does this help in the real world? Keep on reading

Hey got me thinking on joint and cross joint and function. My right elbow has chronic arthritis and joint mice built up. I have full supination/pronation. But my extension is to about 130 degrees and my flexion is only at 90 degrees. It's quite limited! So I'm always altering movement. I really don't do much pressing anymore. In Z health should i pay extra attention to my left knee?

Just curious
Thanks a lot man
Jason Ross

The short answer is YES I have a video coming out on this soon, whenever I can steal 5 minutes to upload it.

I can't guarantee that, but for an elbow, the first place I would look at is the opposite knee and I would check the opposite motion too; so knee flexion (hamstring). Have you ever sprained that ankle on that side? I wold check the talocalcaneal aka subtalar joint since that corresponds to hamstring activity due to gait

Let me know what you find!

Mike N

Mike....I actually have sprained the left ankle pretty severely around 12 years ago. It has never felt as stable.

Thanks for your time man.

Be sure to check out all the killer information on Jason's blog

Train Out Pain

For a case study on how to use opposite joints and the results, see the link below

Z Health and Marathon Running


Brain. 2007 Jan;130(Pt 1):159-69. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Exaggerated interlimb neural coupling following stroke.

Kline TL, Schmit BD, Kamper DG.

Neuromechanics Laboratory, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA.

The patterns of interlimb coupling were examined in 10 stroke survivors with chronic hand impairment. In particular, the potential roles of postural state and motor tasks in promoting the flexed posture of the upper extremity were assessed. Through the use of electromyography analysis, joint angle measurements and a novel biomechanical apparatus to perturb the digits of the hand into extension, measurements of muscle activity and joint position were compared during multiple postural states, locomotion and voluntary muscle activity. The results demonstrated a significant increase in flexion of the digits (P < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_19">flexion and voluntary leg extension produced significant activity in the other impaired extremity, leg and arm, respectively, in the stroke as compared with the control subjects. Thus, rectus femoris in the impaired leg was active during finger flexion of the impaired hand in the stroke survivors and all four tested muscles in the impaired arm were active during extension of the legs (P < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_23">interlimb coupling related to active motor tasks, contributing to an upper extremity flexion bias following stroke.