Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? It’s that time of year when the Christmas decorations have come down, the last of the chocolates have been polished off and social media abounds with gym adverts and photos of green smoothies. Overindulgence and parties are out, healthy changes and cosy nights on the sofa are in.
However, these healthy changes take a while to kick in, don’t they? It would be lovely if we could neck a pint of pureed kale and instantly feel ready for a half-marathon, but alas, the body needs a more sustained approach to health than that. Add to this the endless bugs going about, and you can find yourself just getting in to your New You regime when illness strikes dragging you back again.
So how can osteopathy help? Surely, osteopathy is all about low back pain, stiff necks and trapped nerves? Well yes, but believe it or not, osteopathy was actually borne out of helping all the systems of the body be healthier, not just the bones and muscle system. We are taught that how the muscle/skeleton container moves and functions (or doesn’t) affects what is underneath. So, for example, tight ribs might hinder the lungs a little or a stuck low back might contribute to period pains.
What about the immune system; the system in charge of dealing with all those bugs? Where does that hang out? Well, it’s everywhere! In every nook and cranny of your body, tissues get their nutrients from the blood and then release what they don’t need back out again into the spaces between. This waste is taken into nearby lymphatic channels and then through ducts back to the bloodstream into two big veins under your collar bones.
On its way, lymph can scoop up bacteria and take them to lymph nodes (those lumpy bits you feel in your neck or groin when you’re not well) where they are dealt with by white blood cells made in various places throughout the body. About 4-5 litres of this lymph moves through your body in just one day! The lymphatic channels have valves to stop it all backsliding, but it relies on things like muscular movement and the pressure changes from breathing to keep it steadily pumping back towards the heart, especially from your lower legs and feet which are a long way down from your shoulders and have a lot of gravity to overcome. Yet another reason why staying active is so generally important to health!
Hopefully you are starting to see how osteopathy can contribute to lymphatic movement and therefore immune health. When this system comes up against physical blocks like tight muscles, sluggish breathing from scrunched up ribs and collar bones stuck forward at a computer keyboard, the whole thing can just operate at a sub-par level. We have a few techniques to mimic the body’s own mechanisms and get lymph pumping a bit better, but also, our main area of expertise is getting tight muscles and joints moving better. Releasing collar bones could offer a bit more space for the lymphatic channels to offload into the big veins underneath. Mobilising the lower ribs and some diaphragm work could improve breathing enough to pump the lymph a little better. Loosening off a tight ankle or knee could in turn allow the big calf muscle, which is a big player in massaging lymph up from the legs, to chill out a bit and work with more efficiency.
We’ve simplified the immune system greatly here! It is a beautiful and complex system that has many factors to consider. But in simple terms, like anything else with the body if it isn’t moving unhindered, it isn’t the healthiest it can be.
So, if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, give us a call to see if we can be a part of your journey out of illness and back to health.