We say disease when we should say effect; for disease is the effect of a change in the parts of the physical body. Disease in an abnormal body is just as natural as is health when all the parts are in place.-Osteopathy Research and Practice- Andrew Taylor Still, Founder of Osteopathy
Why does our health deteriorate? Of course we all have genes, some bad, some good, but what makes a person more susceptible to disease than others?
We can start from the macro level, the environment. A person may work at a job they dislike, every year they grow to hate it more and more. The stress level increases as happiness and fulfillment decrease. They began surrounded by a family in which they love. At the beginning it was always the highlight of their day to come home and spend time from them and away from their work. However, with the growing stress of the work, they eventually resorted to unhealthy foods. A natural response in stressful situations where energy is being pulled from cells. They try to compensate by putting more sugar into their blood, which is then compensated for by a large spike in insulin to get glucose back into our cells. From here, they experience a large fog, a drop in energy levels, and increased fatigue, which they carry through lunch and after work. They eventually lack the energy to cook supper at home so decide that it’s easier to feed the family more processed, high calorie, fiber-poor food. Overtime, the highs and lows of a high-sugar, high-processed diet, and the stress of work, now leads to problems at home, or with other family members. They grow dissatisfied with their bodies as the begin to put on weight. More stress to the system. This creates a very poor environment for every cell in their body. The extremes of these you may have seen in the real world, walking zombies. A dis-ordered life primed to make an appearance at the local hospital for treatment of whatever dis-ease their body eventually succumbs to.
Osteopathy is all about order. Any dis-ease in the body usually shows itself through a dis-order of the parts. It usually can be seen in pain or discomfort in bending forward, sitting too long, lifting the arms overhead or twisting the neck. Any sort of disease can be found either in the function of the nervous system, or measured in the blood or lymphatic fluids. What that means is that if we know the function of each part of the body, and how they connect through the blood and nerves, can we not manipulate the structures in between, removing tension in the muscles and other tissues of the body so that circulation can be restored?
It’s our hands that make the difference, in observing the spine, we may see how it moves. Our hands and eyes tell us when things are out of place and are not moving well. Through feeling along the spine and around other joints, we feel areas of hot and cold, wasting and congestion, areas too much tension and those with not enough tension. It gives us a blueprint as to what the blood and nerves are doing in the body, where they are out of whack. If the muscles in the area are on tension when they should be relaxed, we know the nervous system is not working optimally. It could be a joint out of place somewhere in the body or an organ not working properly. The only thing we can know for certain is that something is sending a signal to these muscles to fire inappropriately, restricting the motion of the joints it attaches to. By relaxing these muscles and restoring movement to the joints, we are able to break the reflex cycle. It is almost as if we are re-setting the system, like you would to many electronic devices, in order for the body to work properly. We free up the body from restrictions in order for it to find health.
So what is it good for?
Those who have been treated osteopathically can understand it. It’s a feeling of lightness after a treatment, maybe a rush of blood to the head. Something has changed, we just don’t understand it. If it’s congestion of the sinuses or ears, there’s often a large amount of gunk going down our throat or out our nose. Maybe we went into it with a thyroid issue; unexplained fatigue for a few days. An osteopathic reset and on comes the osteopathic fever, as our thyroid starts sending out large amounts of thyroid hormone after receiving proper blood and nerve supply creating heat throughout the body. Or it may be congestion the knee or back, irritating the nerves and resulting in pain and difficulty moving. Post-treatment we may begin to see the elimination of these effects as the joints begin to move as they were made to do. The treatment is rarely local to one area. Everything in the body must be explored in order to eliminate strains on the body. The result is not a treatment that feels good for a day or two, but builds on another successively so that even the most long-standing of back problems, or other areas of health, can see an improvement. Of course there are no miracle treatments, and even the best bodies require a tune up here and there in order to break up restricted tissues so that blood to the area can be restored and create healthy tissue in its place.
We do not aim for cures, but aim for health. Disease will hit everyone of us at some point, but freedom in motion gives our body the best chance at properly responding to dis-ease. If we take the example of a dis-ordered life from the first paragraph, what would happen if we inserted some daily exercise into their regimen? Exercise helps us control our appetite, increases production of our happy hormones, as well as improve our response to stress. The more we are free to move, the more we are free to heal. It’s what osteopathy is all about.