Joint Health is Critical During Aging

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Interviewer:  We're here at the American Academy of Anti-Aging medicine. How is what you do related to anti-aging and helping live a healthier, longer life? 

Tonka Cascais:  Scott, this is my favorite question. I love this question. What I do is anti-aging exercise. That's simply what I do. What ages in the body is the joints usually. I mean, if you think about it, what do people get replaced as they age? Joints. Knees, hips, I mean, that is what ages. What keeps the joints stable and healthy is the strength of the muscle that controls that joint. So that's what I do, I make sure that the muscles are strong, they do what they need to do to keep that joint healthy. When I say "keep the joint healthy" I mean, obviously there's a lot of different aspects, but one of the things that keeps the joint healthy is (inaudible [0:58]) of the joint. Making sure that the joint surface are doing exactly what they need to be doing, based on that tension of the muscle that generates around the joint. 

The other thing that's really important to understand is that the joints get nutrition by a process called imbibition. Imbibition is basically a simple load that's applied to the joint that displaces the fluid inside the joint capsule and allows new fluid to come in when that tension is released. And that new fluid releases nutrition while the old fluid all the toxins and all the waste that's been in that joint. Without a proper loading for the joints, that process doesn't happen. So here's how aging occurs in the joints. 

So, with what I do, those processes are really being monitored and we make sure that they happen in the body naturally and keep that flexibility  and strength for the longest time possible. 

Interviewer:  You mentioned flexibility. Why is maintaining that so important as we age? And is that one of the first things to kind of go as we get older, too?

Tonka Cascais:  Well, here is my opinion on flexibility. When there's a limitation of flexibility in a certain joint, to me that means that there's a weakness in that joint. So, think about this analogy, and I use this a lot with my clients, how many ropes does it take to tie a tree and stop it from falling? Usually it takes three ropes, right? So you have a tree and then you have three ropes to stop that tree from falling. Every joint in your body has musculature that supports that joint to stay in place. If any of those ropes is not there, what has to happen for that tree to stay up? The other ropes have to work more, they have to generate more tension. Well, this is what happens in the body. When a muscle is not functioning properly, the muscles have to tighten up more to keep that joint functioning and allow you to do your daily activities. So based on which muscle is not functioning properly, that's where the limitation in the range of motion will happen. Now, me going and stretching the tight ropes to increase flexibility is not going to fix the problem, right? So what I have to do is, I have to go and restore the rope that's not doing its job. So that's how I address flexibility. If there is a limitation in the range of motion, we'll look for the muscle that's weak, or it's not functioning. We restore its function and flexibility is restored instantly. That's why the work that we do is anti-aging because when you feel stiff and inflexible, you feel old, don't you? When you feel loose and flexible, you feel young. You can jump, you can do everything. So that's how flexibility and anti-aging actually relates.

Pilates expert Tonka Cascais explains why joint health is one of the most important places to start when it comes to anti-aging medicine. She explains why flexibility is so important and what you need to do to maintain flexibility as you age.

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