How amazing is our body’s ability to adapt, defend itself and repair? We can fast for weeks or eat largely in excess of our requirements, perform feats of physical endurance or spend days seated at a desk… Each time we get an infection, our complex and finely tuned immune system is immediately mobilised to fight it. When we break a bone or get a cut, our tissues immediately start mending. This is all the result of powerful self-regulation and self-healing mechanisms. These allow us to maintain, under most circumstances, a stable and supportive internal environment.
Whenever we are exposed to stress, whether physical, mental or metabolic, our system adapts the best it can. For example, we produce stress hormones like cortisol to help us cope with a challenging deadline at work. But the ability of our system to adapt is finite. Every new stress is causing a further adjustment and there is a cumulative effect with other (past) stresses. Using the previous example, we become more susceptible to infections after we have been under high pressure at work for a long time.
Resilience is a measure of our ability to adapt to stresses and repair from insults. When subjected to low cumulative stresses, we have a high resilience – we feel strong and enjoy life. Conversely, the need to adapt to several significant stresses can take away a large share of our resilience and make us susceptible to pain and illness.
But one thing to always remember is that our body’s drive toward health is relentless! Taking away some stresses is often all it takes to restore some resilience and regain health. For example, making healthier food choices may be enough to reduce inflammation and get rid of persistent pain. Similarly, removing physical restrictions in the chest and improving the mechanics of breathing may help break a cycle of recurrent respiratory infections, as self-regulation and self-healing mechanisms are allowed to work more freely.
The structure-function inter-relationship, the concept of body unity and the idea of a continuous drive toward health define the 3 core principles of Osteopathy.
Originally written by Nicolas Roost for LiveBeingFit (www.livebeingfit.com)