“I’m falling apart!” is something I commonly hear when interviewing patients. “After one thing is better a new one pops up!” is also a common complaint. It may seem to many that their body is working against them. In my experience, I’ve learned it’s often something deeper, a message regarding the health of the body as a system. Before you get out the duct tape or WD40, please read on and ponder what may be ailing you.
As a child you may remember the song Dem Bones (or Dry Bones). How the toe bone is connected to the foot bone and all the way up to the shoulder bone connected to the neck bone (can’t you just hear the rhythm as you read those lines?) As children singing that song, we learned how the entire body is connected. As a patient, it is important to remember a problem in one area of the body may be related to another distant location. For example, instead of looking at shoulder, back and foot pain as isolated problems, it is often necessary to look at their relationship in order to fully recover.
Our bodies contain a great amount of fascia. Think of fascia like cob webbing that surrounds every muscle cell, fiber and grouping. It surrounds all organs, nerves, the spinal cord and arteries. It is everywhere! Trauma, such as sports injuries or auto accidents, even micro trauma as a result of prolonged sitting with poor posture, hardens fascial tissue. This hardening is like a snag in a sweater as it pulls on the surrounding tissue and affects other parts of the body. When this happens we see compensated movement, consciously or subconsciously, which leads to greater and greater imbalances.
If the body system isn’t treated as a whole when in therapy, imbalances continue to affect surrounding structures. This may be why patients sometimes complain of remote body parts “acting up” while they are in therapy for another. Their body may be telling us they need help there as well. In my experience, techniques I learned through studying the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Method have been very helpful in addressing the whole system. Using this approach, I may see a patient with complaints of foot pain but find other areas of the body need to be addressed to get to the root of the problem.
Listen to your body and talk with your therapist about what your body is telling you. If you listen, you may find that your body is your greatest ally!