I have always been fascinated by how our bodies work; fascinated by the complexity and synchronicity. Without going into too much detail, or I could spend a whole post on embryology, however, this is meant as an overview and I encourage you to research on your own. I have included links to materials I found beneficial in my studies.
It is important to know that the body, during early development, does an incredibly intricate and efficient job compartmentalizing our tissues and systems. This is the reason almost every element of the body can be linked to another, and why no one system works exclusively. The role of fascia to link tissues and extend communication globally throughout the body is vital to systemic inter-relationships.
Kinesiology laid the foundation of my education, and osteopathy has given me the tools to assess the body as a whole and select the appropriate therapy progression to address the root cause of the dysfunction. I found that if I assessed the body as a functional unit, the information I received depicted a story of how, and why, this patient was experiencing pain in a certain location. The body is very good at adapting and compensating, always finding the path of least resistance, until it is no longer able to do so. It is often at this point that clients become symptomatic or feel pain and discomfort. The following systemic inter-relationships are ones that I commonly see, and I hope to help educate a little more about.
Cranial – Sacral: The inter-relationship between the pelvis and the cranium is undoubtedly one of the most important connections in the human body. The most critical area of our bodies is the central mass or chain. Our brain communicates with our body through the many nerves of the nervous system that run to and from the spine. The organs that keep us alive, healthy and protected live in the thorax and abdomen, and the skeleton that supports us moves around the stable structures of the pelvic girdle, spine and shoulder girdle. It is often the dysfunction of one of these systems that impacts the others. For example, a fall on your tailbone while skiing can cause structural changes to the hips/spine due to the impact. This change could decrease spinal curvature, reducing the shock absorbing properties of the spine, causing hip discomfort or low back discomfort. The change of structure could also impact the deeper soft tissues, which could lose elasticity, creating areas of fluid stagnation leading to sinus congestion and or headaches. These are some of the many possibilities, but more importantly the reason why the body must be evaluated as a whole unit.
Foot – Knee – Hip: We are designed to move. Every joint, bone and tissue, working harmoniously together to help us sit, stand, walk or run and everything else in between. Unfortunately, if there is a weak link in the chain, other areas will try and pick up the slack and you will continue on like nothing ever happened. Over time, the areas of immobility or hypermobility wear out or seize up and cause pain. Hip and knee replacements are needed to reduce/eliminate the pain and restore mobility. I have seen a lot of knee pain resolved because care was provided to the hip and or foot. Correcting structural dysfunctions and strengthening muscles and movement patterns can improve the longevity of joints.
Shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle: I see a lot of shoulder issues and when I hear about shoulder dysfunction I often check the relationship between the hips and shoulders. There are a number of soft tissue attachments that impact the mobility of the shoulders that are also linked with the mobility of the hips. The scapula, the bone that connects the upper arm to the thorax, is greatly impacted by numerous myofascial attachments that link the shoulder girdle to the pelvic girdle. The best analogy I can think of is someone wearing a t-shirt. If you were to grab the shirt under the arm and twist it so that the shirt became tighter and more restrictive, the person wearing the shirt would have a difficult time moving their arms up and out. This is what could be happening when someone is experiencing shoulder pain/discomfort. The mobility between tissues has become restricted, and this is being taken out on the mobility of the shoulder. I find that working in areas that impact the shoulder to become more mobile, increases the mobility of the shoulder and decreases the discomfort or pain.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and if you are interested in knowing more, book in for a meet and greet and I would love to discuss this in further detail and answer any questions you may have.
- Thomas Myers – Anatomy Trains: Great book illustrating and discussing the origin of the fascial network and myofascial links of the body.
- Daniel Keown – The spark in the machine: Great read linking western and eastern medicine. This book introduces embryology and does a great job identifying links between systems.
Mike is an Osteopathic Manual Therapy student at the Canadian School of Osteopathy in Vancouver. In addition to his osteopathic training, Mike has an extensive background in athletics and holds a Bachelors of Kinesiology from University of Calgary. Mike has trained with clients ranging from elite athletes to post-surgery rehabilitation. His true passion lies in aligning his osteopathic treatments with each individual’s goal for the betterment of functional movement and fitness in their day to day life.