- the movable or fixed place or part where two bones or elements of a skeleton join.
- the form or structure of such a part, as a ball-and-socket, hinge, pivot, etc.
- Slang. Also called jay2. a marijuana cigarette.
- 4 Slang. A dirty, cheap, or disreputable place of public accommodation or entertainment, especially a restaurant or nightclub.
The word joint has more than one meaning. What is the first thing you think about when you see the word? Especially lately, when I see or hear the word joint, I think of the marvelous mechanisms in our bodies that allow us to bend.
There are 360 of them in the human body, and we use them without thinking about them. They are simple, yet complex. Working in synchrony with muscles and other body parts, joints provide flexibility. They make movement across the room, across the street, across the city and across the globe possible. Walking, running, skipping, jumping, bouncing, and dancing are just some of the benefits of the joints in your body.
Joints are taken for granted until use of one of them becomes limited, or impossible. Our body joints usually exercise teamwork, working in pairs or groups. When one joint is compromised, the team becomes challenged or useless. Ask anyone with a knee or ankle injury, and they can tell you that when one joint suffers, it doesn’t matter how well the others perform. If there is too much pain in the knee, for example, it affects the use of the whole leg. Ask someone with a worn out hip, and (s)he will tell you about the pain in the hip, not how well the rest of her/his legs or feet work. Other joints can and will compensate some for the uncooperative body parts; but over time the increased strain may affect that overworked joint and could wear it out prematurely.
When use of an entire leg ends due to illness or injury, movement of the body as a whole becomes difficult, or impossible. Whether slowly or abruptly, the world changes from being wide open for exploring to having movements limited, and sometimes feeling like movement is an obstacle course.
When function of legs is restricted by illness or age, they are often replaced by wheels. Wheels allow movement forward and backward, but what the user gives up is all of the other movements that joints make possible. Up and down are seldom options on wheels. Side to side becomes complicated, and even forward and backward are limited to what can be smoothly navigated. The world looks and feels different when on wheels. Without the advantage of the shock absorbers present in joints, movement is sensed differently and terrain is viewed with caution. For the able bodied, cobblestone/brick surfaces and uneven grassy areas are pleasant to look at. For someone on wheels, they are still pretty to see, but their eyes also alert the rest of the body for the unpleasant jostling that movement over rough surfaces causes. The path ahead is observed for possible hazards and access is often limited. Much is missed when legs are traded for wheels, and the advantages of joints are gone. I miss the usefulness of my legs and their joints, but I do appreciate the many amazing joints I still have control of.
The intricacies which make up the human body give it its usefulness in work and play, and freedom of movement is something God created and designed for us to appreciate and enjoy. So today, as you move from one place to another, if you are able,…
add a bounce in your step,
skip if you can,
Shimmy if you dare,
cha cha just because it’s fun;
and marvel with me at the mechanisms in your body called joints.