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How far is health care behind the financial crash and where does West & East meet?

How far is health care behind the financial crash and where does West & East meet?

Saul Yudelowitz BSc (Hons) 

Currently today health care is heading for a severe financial crisis. There is plenty of good scientific research showing that the cost is in the billions for chronic diseases like obesity and Alzheimer’s and it is not limited to these diseases only.

In this article I shall describe and explain about a tissue of the body. Its importance becoming very clear and its influence on our long term health all the way into and past our 8th decade. How Western and Eastern medicine approaches disease and health care and conclude with suggestions to consider for making informed choices about your health.

There are many different tissue types in the body; one such type is called connective tissue. Connective tissue is an umbrella term referring to the many different types of connective tissue in the body like blood, ligaments, tendons, capsules of joints and more. One type is called fascia. The fascia of the human body is remarkable in every way as it literally provides the structure and function of the body. Fascia houses arteries, veins, nerves, lymphatic’s and other vital structures. It provides a deep and superficial structure that envelope muscles, bones and all our viscera. Fascia also allows the communication of chemicals from one area to another, a typical route for some hormones among other chemicals. This method of communication takes longer than neuronal communication but typically the effect lasts longer. Fascia is the third main afferent proprioceptor  supplier to the brain after muscles and joints. This literally means that if your fascia is imbalanced your reaction to correct movement is flawed.

In a previous article by the author the description of how the cells of the fascia respond was compared to the high level of training Olympic sprinters undergo. At this level of sport, everything counts. Sprinters run on a mixture of corn starch and water. The reason for this is that like the corn starch and water mixture (CWM), fascia has some very interesting properties that could be considered counter intuitive. The CWM when compressed quickly undergoes changes from a liquid to a solid; this is easily shown by playing a base speaker under the container housing the CWM and literally watching the sound wave form by the CWM. Just as the athlete who sprints over this, if they move slowly then the mixture remains a liquid and they sink!

These properties have significant implications on our function and health. When the fascia has been tightened in an area it becomes more solid. The tightening of fascia can occur by lengthening or shortening. This is the main reason why muscles respond in the same manner. As muscles contract eccentrically or concentrically they become more of a solid than a liquid. Muscles are not in a pure liquid state when relaxed or pure solid state when contracted as they have less fascia to muscle ratio.

If a nerve that pieces the fascia, on its route to innervate tissue, or a blood vessel is stretched, the brain will contract muscles to protect the neural and vascular system so a laceration resulting in internal bleeding does not occur. This can and does result in a compression on a area of the nerve. Lack of movement and poor movement patterns or specifically poor biomechanics also affect fascia. Lack of movement results in adhesions in the fascia like frozen shoulder, while poor biomechanics creates imbalances in the fascia as well. This can result in tight muscles that are protecting blood vessels, so no matter how much stretching is done they remain tight. Poor biomechanics is one of the most overlooked requirements in health. While the public are advised to maintain a healthy level of activity, if the biomechanics are poor it results in imbalances in the fascia. Since fascia has such a vital structural and functional role in our health, holistic health care needs to consider fascia.

The Western medical approach (WMA) is based on quickly inhibiting the typical resulting symptoms the patient presents with. If a nerve is compressed or impinged by fascia anti-inflammatory and, or pain killers are usually given. While there is no doubt the WMA quickly resolves symptoms, it has at least two flaws. First, resolving the symptom does not correct the problem and second. It not only makes the patient reliant on the drugs that do this but after a period of time the drugs become less effective and so stronger and, or more drugs are required for the same affect. There are still the side effects of drugs to consider. WMA is very affective in acute medicine, where vital functions are in question. Acute emergency care like car accidents is what the WMA is based on not chronic diseases. The Eastern medical approach (EMA) takes longer to affect the body but is directed more at the cause and not the symptom. It is no coincident that over 80% of acupuncture points correlate with areas where nerves pierce fascia. The idea behind this is that placing a needle strategically will allow for a relevant contraction of the fascia however when the needle is removed the relaxation can be compared to releasing a sponge that was being squeezed while in water. It sucks in fluid thereby allowing the relaxation to last longer and resolve the impingement by the fascia on the nerve and draw in nutrients. This however would not work when and artery or vein is stretched, as the brain will keep muscles contracted so as to protect the vasculature. Both the WMA and EMA have advantages and disadvantages however they should be used when applicable. They both fall short when changing symptoms permanently.

The best natural method for this is by two methods. The first is biochemical and so the food we eat, the method of cooking and many other variables factor into this. The second is our biomechanics. This is literally the manner in which we have learnt to move. It has been proved that not moving an area of the body for 12 weeks or more allows adhesions in the fascia to form. This then has knock on affects as described above but also impairs movement in the future. The best exercise to relearn is how to walk correctly. This allows balanced tension in the fascia so that what ever movement you decide to undertake, you do this in a balanced biomechanical manner. This is a reason why always doing the same exercise is not beneficial. Since fascia envelopes all our viscera their function is dependent on facial tension being balanced and biochemistry. Health from with in makes health last on the outside but trying to go the other way is incorrect. As the senior musculoskeletal therapist for Sports Medicine Consultants I have worked with children who have difficulties to Olympic athletes. Many injuries reoccur in professional sports and this is primarily due to the fascia not being taken into account. Once again at the other side, children who undergo therapy and do not have fascia considered cant make lasting progress and if they do make progress it is rather limited. When we walk correctly our core works correctly, we breathe correctly and our viscera function correctly. Any gym exercise that works your core that doesn’t address a component of walking at the same time is flawed; yes that means the majority of them.

Moving forward into the future our health care and medical insurance will be very different. I say this because if we have this in the future it will need to change and adapt to the changing requirements over the last few decades. Populations are living longer but becoming less functional sooner. Throwing money at this problem is not the answer. We literally need to get back to basics and integrate what East and West offer. While the modern world sits a lot more just going out and exercising is over simplistic. Before we do this, moving correctly is a key requirement so that we can exercise correctly. There should be no reason for a 50 year old who runs marathons to have degenerative knees or spine if he has good biomechanics and balanced biochemistry. I am 40 years old, run my dog 10Km every day. I cover 70Km a week, nearly 2 marathons a week. I have no aches and pains. I work on my biomechanics and maintain good walking and running biomechanics. My biochemistry is very good. Having said this it has some significant differences to typical WMA advise for long term health. I see this state as average for someone in their 4th decade but on average the majority of the population in their 4th decade are unhealthy, even well educated parts of the population which according to research should be healthier than less educated.

Some of the considerations that we should make about our health include but are not limited to. Maintenance of independent functionality into and past the 8th decade of life. While it was hard to imagine being 30 when we were 15 years old. It is difficult to imaging being 80 when we are 40 years old. Different things become important to us as we age.

What exercises we undertake will dictate the manner in which we move in the future. How we move now (our biomechanics) will determine the health of joints, discs of the spine and other tissue. Biochemistry also has its part in this.

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