We’re not all created equal. Researchers from the University of Oxford studied bone and joint size as well as orientation over the span of the last 400 million years. What does this mean for movement patterns such as reaching and squatting?
Some common problems such as pain in the shoulder when reaching overhead, pain in the front of the knee and hip pain are prevalent in today’s world. So, why are our bones and joints arranged the way they are if it causes us so many problems?
As our ancestors began moving from 4 legs to 2 legs, some subtle changes began to take place in the bones over the course of many generations. As more pressure was being placed on the leg and hips over time, the neck of the hip bone (femur) began to thicken.
The scientists found that there is a correlation between the femoral neck size and arthritis. The thicker the neck size, the more likely arthritis was to form.
Similarly, in the shoulder there is a gap between bones where tendons and blood vessels pass through. As you reach overhead that space becomes tighter. When scientists looked at the space over the past millions of years, they also noticed that it became smaller. You can imagine that if you tighten an already small space, this can create problems and pain.
Many movements, such as reaching, throwing and squatting should be done specific to the individual person. I’m sure you’ve heard someone tell you to squat the same way as everyone else. Something to the tune of “Keep your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward and don’t let your knees go past your toes.” First think, if we are all built a bit differently, why should we all move the same? Differences in movement techniques aren’t always due to something being tight or weak. Sometimes the way you are built requires you to modify the way you move. This is not to say that you can’t squat or reach overhead. You might just need to modify how you get there.
For more information and to help visualize the differences, check out this resource.