While Pilates exercises seek to restore the body’s capacity for flowing motion, osteopathic treatment seeks to restore the inherent motility of each body part. By restoring the individual parts, and integrating the parts into the whole, health and harmony are achieved.
Optimum health depends upon the free movement of the joints, bones, organs, muscles, and connective tissues. The heart must beat fully and the lungs expand freely for vibrant health. Other organs also must move in their natural rhythms. The gut must pulsate enthusiastically as it pulls in nutrients. The liver must rock as it processes toxins to render them harmless. And the most essential organ—the brain—must expand and contract six to fourteen times a minute to enliven the whole body. Restriction of any of these critical motions can damage health.
Because the body parts are interconnected, restriction of motion in one area can have profound effects elsewhere. An ankle sprain doesn’t just restrict the normal range of motion of the foot. It can have a ripple effect elsewhere, as other joints are strained, stretched and pushed out of alignment as they try to compensate for the ankle’s dysfunction. Low back pain may originate as an ankle problem. As the pelvis reacts to the ankle’s instability, the sacrum rotates out of alignment, twisting the vertebrae above, and trapping nerves. Hence a sprained ankle may lead to sciatica, low-back pain, headaches, and pain in the opposite shoulder.
Injury to one kind of structure can also cause a problem in a completely different system of the body. A fall on the ice can jar the spine resulting in a blockage of spinal nerves at any level, perhaps those that feed the uterus and reproductive organs, leading to painful menstrual cramps.
Just as essential as the motion of the tissues is the free flow of fluids that permeate the body. Injury can twist the blood vessels that bring nutrients to damaged tissue and the lymphatic channels that wash away inflammation-causing debris. The injured site then becomes increasingly compromised. Further, injury can constrict the nerves that manage the complex task of healing. Restoring motion to all these systems, not just to the joints, is essential to healing.
Once the somatic dysfunction is identified—an area of restriction or rigidity—the area can be aligned, its fluid pathway can be restored, and it can be integrated with the rest of the body. The body orients naturally towards health. When anatomic restrictions are removed, the body’s self-regulating mechanisms are liberated to optimize the healing process.
For an osteopathic practitioner, the basic principle is to find what is not moving, invite it to move, and trust the body’s capacity to heal itself.
-Article by Jenny Trost
Jenny Trost is a certified Osteopath. Through her business, Pacific Osteopathy, Jenny offers treatments from her studio as well as out of the Victoria Pilates studio. For an appointment with Jenny, contact her at 250-891-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org