Our body is made of a variety of structures and tissues, ranging from delicate organs like the brain or the pancreas to solid tissue like bone. But one thing that all our body structures and tissues share is that they are in constant motion.
This constant motion is the result of us moving in our environment – our external motion, driven by our skeletal muscles. But even more importantly, it results from internal motion in our body. Some of these internal movements are microscopic, while others are easily perceivable. Every time we take a breath, our organs move. Our digestive system is animated by coordinated muscle contractions that move food along. Every time our heart beats, pressure waves travel in our arterial system and throughout our tissues.
The constant motion in our body is an essential aspect of health, and 2 statements can be made:
- The free motion of any organ or tissue is a prerequisite for its health
- A freely mobile organ or tissue is in a state of health
So what happens when an organ or tissue doesn’t move freely, i.e. has lost its natural mobility? Let’s take the example of tissue fixations following surgery. Surgery involves incisions (small or large) in tissues, which subsequently become inflamed and heal with the formation of scar tissue. Surfaces that were once sliding freely against each other (like many are in our body) become adhered to one another. Motion is altered and axes of tension and stress develop in the affected tissues. This impacts on blood flow and nerve supply to and from these tissues, and can help set off a chronic, low-grade inflammatory response. The affected tissues may thus become more susceptible to disease.
And how can restoring normal mobility help restore health? Simply stated, removing the tissue tensions and fixations that alter their mobility will remove the impediments to their nutrient supply, waste removal and nerve supply. With optimal arterial, venous, lymphatic and nervous functions, powerful self-regulation mechanisms set in that help maintain an optimal balance and promote health.
Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician born in 1828, recognised the essential inter-relationship between structure and function in our body. He hypothesized that by removing impediments to the normal mechanics of structure, optimal function could be restored. This was a very big step forward from the medicine practiced in his time, where bloodletting and poisons like mercury were still used to treat some ailments. Still founded Osteopathy, a form of manual therapy based on this very principle of structure-function inter-relationship.
Originally written by Nicolas Roost for LiveBeingFit (www.livebeingfit.com)