Friday, October 11, 2013

You Got to Move It, Move It!!!

     Many people encounter pain in their lives. This can be due to a postural distortion, injury or disease. No matter how the pain manifests, however, one of the biggest mistakes that can be made is to stay completely still after the acute phase of healing has taken hold. Even in the case of a broken bone, sprained ligament or strained tendon, once the initial act of healing has started, it is still very important to keep the rest of the body moving. Once a good doctor recognizes the acute phase of healing is underway, he or she should prescribe, at least, gentle forms of bodily motion to get the patient back in the game. This can be in the form of physical therapy, at-home exercises, stretching and even massage. If a doctor does NOT prescribe motion, it is advised to seek a different doctor. Here is why.
     Healing and movement go together on a cellular level. The muscles, bones and organs of the body are held together by connective tissues called "fascia". These tissues are largely composed of cartilage, elastin and a viscous liquid called "ground-substance". These tissues are largely reliant upon surrounding vascular tissue for nutrients to help itself heal. When the body is moved, circulation is increased to bring nutrients and oxygen to an area attempting to fix itself. The lymphatic system joins with the circulatory system to remove debris and waste products from areas of cellular regeneration. Unlike the circulatory system which is pumped by the heart, the lymphatic system is pumped by motion. Remaining still allows waste products to pool in the body like stagnant swamps. This creates a toxic atmosphere for cells trying to regenerate resulting in inflammation, illness, and eventually, cell death.
       Another reason why movement is integral to healing is the body, as a unit, requires movement. We were not designed by nature to be sedentary. Physics decrees that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. When the myofascial system is compromised by staying still, muscles atrophy and connective tissues harden. Muscles and fascia are kept supple and fluid internally by heat. This heat is given off as a by-product of movement. When the body is asked to move after an extended period of stillness, this results in stiffness, weakness and down-right pain to bring the injured cells back on line, and get the body moving through the thickened fascial barriers.
     On a final note, the body requires movement for balance. "It's all connected." (Those who know me, I'm working on the T-shirts. Ha ha!) Every part of the body plays a part in the dynamics of the whole. When one part of the body is held still and becomes weak or stiff, another part has to take over for the injured area. For example, if one leg is held perfectly straight and no weight is ever allowed to be placed on it, the other leg is going to get the load of dragging the body along when walking. (Try it. Walk around like that for a few minutes. How does the 'good' leg feel?) This creates a postural distortion the entire body must now compensate for. This leads to additional pain, stiffness and wear and tear. At extremes, this can even start to affect internal organs.
     In closing, if saddled with any condition requiring medical attention, it is important to discuss the process of healing. This should, by all means, include prescribed movement. If this is not part of an acting physician's wellness plan, second, third and even fourth opinions are warranted. You deserve it!

Happy Healing! :)

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