Health is a balance. Our body has an innate drive to maintain balance. It makes constant adjustments internally, to meet demands placed on the system by external lifestyle stresses. By altering physiologic functions such as breath, heart rate and metabolism it is able to keep the internal environment within ideal parameters. Health is not a destination, we do not reach an end point of balance. It is fluid. The fulcrum on which stability has been established will continuously change, as demands placed upon us throughout life also change. We will no doubt encounter events which cause the body to deviate from its natural state as life stresses are unavoidable. While we often grow from adversity, if prolonged, the effects of stress, eating poorly or moving less, can lay the foundations for the disease process to set in.
Osteopaths have a unique way of looking at the body. Osteopathy is a tool for which to facilitate the bodies inherent desire for balance. By searching for where it has compromised from injury or strain and ensuring its motion and mechanics are unobstructed, the body is better able to return to health. It is no secret that a patient’s capacity to heal rests with their ability to maintain a balance of their internal environment. Those that succeed with this look different and their bodies feel different. There are quality and fluidity in their movement and vibrancy in how their tissues respond to treatment. They feel ‘healthy’, and the outcomes of treatment are far greater.
Health is rooted in the old English word ‘hælþ’, meaning wholeness. When science began to focus on structure and could see how the disease affected normal tissue, through dissection and under a microscope, being healthy became an ‘absence of disease’. Now a person is no more healthy, in the absence of disease, then a tradesman is without his tools. Without disease, we are simply not sick. We are declared ‘well’ when we no longer have the symptoms of being ‘unwell’, yet are often none the wiser for the cause that shifts the balance of health and provides an optimal environment for disease to begin.
“To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease” Dr AT Still
In more recent times, research has enabled us to establish the connection between mind and body, and so the meaning of health is once again, realigned with its original roots. Whole. Whole in the sum of its parts. Parts which are equal and balanced. Merriam-Webster defines health as ‘the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit’, which I agree with almost entirely except the or because these are not separate entities. They are interdependent, making up different but equal parts of the whole. Say you are sound in body and spirit, but the mind is lacking, perhaps you are overly stressed or anxious. Muscles become tense, blood pressure rises, adrenals become overworked and nutrient absorption and hormone levels begin to be affected. Before long, the immune system becomes compromised, and through a loss of internal balance, we become susceptible to disease.
A balanced life on the outside makes it easier to maintain balance within. We are only healthy when balance exists between these parts, so one must continually devote time each day to each aspect of health. Neglecting one and thus upsetting the balance of the internal environment, may lead to permeation of ill health through the others. This makes us susceptible to disease, decrease vitality and reduces our bodies capacity to heal.
- “Definition Of HEALTH”. Merriam-webster.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
- “Online Etymology Dictionary”. Etymonline.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Mar. 2017.
- Sternberg, Esther. The Balance Within. 1st ed. New York: W.H. Freeman, 2001. Print.
- Still, A. T. The Philosophy And Mechanical Principles Of Osteopathy. Kirksville, Mo.: Osteopathic Enterprise, 1986. Print