One of the most common things we explain to our patients, more than acupuncture, more than RedCord, more than manual techniques, is adaptability.
Adaptability is a concept that describes the ability we have to change or adjust the way we move to accomplish our tasks in sport, work and daily life. Every system of the body can adapt. In the respiratory system, people can have illnesses that require the removal of a portion or even an entire lobe of their lung, only to have the remaining part of the lung or the lung on the other side of the body pick up the slack to maintain their respiratory function. In the nervous system, people can sustain injuries that lead to damage or a loss of neurons, only to see new neural connections sprout or existing ones take over the function previously performed by the damaged neurons.
Even when it comes to movement, people can have stiff or fused joints or lack parts of a muscle group in certain parts of their body, but still be able to move normally and perform at high levels that even surprise their therapists at times.
Now what is most interesting when it comes to understanding the adaptability of the body, is the analogy of adaptability being a currency – what I mean by that is that it can be spent and it can be earned.
There are different ways to rebalance this adaptability currency within your body and for each of these there is a professional that has the skill set to help you. A physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist can focus on restoring the adaptability of your body’s nervous system and soft tissue/joints via acupuncture and manual therapy techniques. A personal trainer can help to design you a specified exercise program to restore the adaptability lost to poor exercise habits. Finally, a naturopath can do the proper blood and dietary testing to determine what supplementation is needed in your diet to improve your body’s metabolic condition.
Particularly relevant to our physiotherapy practice is the need to educate patients about the importance of getting old injuries treated. The reason for this is that old injuries, when not completely treated and resolved, leave behind demands on the body causing you to have to adapt and compensate in an attempt to maintain good function. While the symptom of pain might disappear after an injury, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve recovered fully.
There may still be strength and mobility deficits along with chemical changes in the area which sensitize and predispose the area and the body as a whole to future injury by changing the way you move and absorb forces. I really cannot stress this enough – when you get injured, seek immediate treatment from a therapist and follow the course of treatment to completion – not just when you start to feel better – so that you don’t carry these deficits with you into the future.
In conclusion, the body has an unbelievable ability to adapt. But this ability can be both impaired or improved by the way you use your body and the things you put into it in the form of diet and exercise. Give your body the care it deserves so that it continue to adapt to life’s challenges!