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
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
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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