What does it mean and why should I care?
In short, when you have good joint integrity it means the joint tissues are healthy and able to maintain stability and mobility whenever force is applied. When people begin to lose joint integrity they typically refer to it as having a lack of balance. There are many things that can cause a lack of joint integrity, but one thing is clear, if it is not addressed the joint structures will begin to wear, possibly become painful and ultimately fail.
So, should you care? Absolutely. Proper exercise regimens can easily improve and prevent excess wear within your joints. Conversely, improper exercises can drastically speed up the breakdown of a joint, or joints. Here's a simple test and continued practice to determine and maintain join integrity during exercise.
1. Does the exercise movement cause pain or create any popping, cracking, snapping sounds or sensations deep within the joint? If yes, the position should be changed until pain, sound or sensation can no longer be felt the heard.
2. Can you stop and start the exercise at any point during the movement without changing the original path of movement (compensation)? And can you do so without any of the above symptoms? If yes, it's safe to say that you have good joint integrity. If you can perform a movement without the symptoms from 1. but you are unable to stop and start the movement at will, then you should either decrease the weight if applicable, slow down the speed and/or decrease the number of repetitions until you can stop and start on demand. Once you have control over the joint you can go as fast as you like. Until then, slow down!
If pain is already involved, it's best to seek an exercise professional to help you appropriately modify the movement to prevent further damage and possibly reverse and improve the issue. The physiology of most joints will prevent you from feeling pain until a significant amount of damage has already occurred.
Their are numerous popular “exercises” that cause the muscles to become stronger and look great, but destroy the very structure that will allow them to continue to be strong and look great.