It is without question that a great number of people have found relief from bodily trauma through Physiotherapy and Chiropractics. Injured muscles and misaligned joints can often be remedied by an expert in these respective medical fields. And yet many people have spent great amounts of money on countless sessions with Physios and Chiros that have provided them with little more than temporary relief from their symptoms. The reason is that despite the claims that such practices address the root cause of the problem, this is not necessarily true in all cases.
In dealing with trauma to the body I distinguish two main types;
1) trauma due to a sudden impact or action; and
2) trauma accumulated over time resulting from persistent misuse of the body (the muscular system is imbalanced due to constant disruption of the postural integrity).
There is of course a fair amount of overlap between the two, since when the postural integrity is compromised we are more prone to injury, and when there is an injury we are more inclined to disturb the postural integrity to compensate for the injury.
As an example of the first category, let’s take the case of a person with a displaced vertebral disc resulting from an accident. A visit to the Chiropractor can quickly help to realign the vertebrae and ease the pain, and Physiotherapy too can help to release the muscle spasms. The same can also be said for the person in the second category who is experiencing persistent back pain caused by bad postural habits. However, for the latter, the misalignment of the spine and the muscle spasms are not the root cause. These are merely symptoms of a greater problem. In such a case if you were to ask either of these specialists why the spine, or any other part of the body is misaligned, or why a muscle is in spasm, they will invariably put it down to ‘bad body mechanics.’ Apart from being a rather ambiguous phrase, this is a tacit admission that neither of these two fields of work do always address the cause. This is not to detract from the tremendous benefit that people have obtained from these practices, but merely to point out their limitations.
The phrase, ‘bad body mechanics’ is (unknowingly) a rather crude attempt to describe the long-term misuse of the body with a continuous compromise of the postural integrity which results in muscle imbalances. Thus, when talking about trauma brought on by bad postural habits, it would be naïve to think that Physiotherapy and Chiropractics will provide anything more than temporary relief. Habits, particularly unconscious ones, take a considerable amount of time and commitment to overcome. They of necessity involve a reassessment of how one is going about doing things and whether that manner is productive or destructive. If there is no change to the habitual ways of performing actions that result in a compromised postural integrity, it is quite likely the symptoms will return, possibly worse than before and with greater frequency.
In recent years, Biokinetics too has gained popularity as a supplement (or alternative) to Physiotherapy and Chiropractics. The field of Biokinetics aims to remedy the ‘bad body mechanics’ identified by the Physios and Chiros. While this is at least a nod in the right direction, it has been my experience that postural integrity is rarely taken into account when a person is given an exercise program to rehabilitate the parts affected by the trauma. Since ‘bad body mechanics’ is a direct result of compromised postural integrity, attention first needs to be paid to achieving postural reintegration, otherwise any attempts at correcting the body mechanics by means of exercises will not be successful, and no permanent cure will be effected.