Osteopathic Principles – Part Three: Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated

Put simply it is our physical parts (Structure) and they way we use them (Function).

Personally I feel that this is the core and integral part of what makes Osteopathy differ from other health professions, it sits at the core of our theological belief and drives the rationale of many of our treatment methods.

The structure of the human body is complex and infinitely intricate. Tried and tested, the sum of its parts are far greater than its individual pieces and the synchronisation of so many different components leaves no space for redundant parts, except for maybe the appendix, but that is on the way out of the evolutionary back door.

If we believe in Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories, the human body has become over time more and more refined and better suited to coping with the specialised tasks required of the human form. Our structure and function exist in a delicate dance that requires a constant flow and adaptation. We are exceptionally good at compensating and altering our form to equalise any compromise our body needs to make to perform our activities of daily living, with every person having a slightly different set of tasks to complete every day. Our body works tirelessly to maintain our ability until something pushes us outside of what we can compensate and correct.

When this happens our body lets us know in a cruel, yet sublimely effective way…PAIN.

Now the warning signs are usually there before the big event, like tremors before the major earthquake. There are the tell tale signs of fatigue, tension, a general feeling of limitation, which are often overlooked by us as minor, trivial nuisances that will go away with time, however they are indicative of an underlying flaw that is causing our body to work less efficiently than normal and ultimately may end in an acute injury event. Just like a simple earth tremor, we may not experience an earth quake as a direct response, it may settle down, however it is an alarm that there is a fault below and without action there could be consequences down then track. BAAW

A good analogy of our body the humble bicycle. The components of a simple bike are the frame (Skeleton), the gears (joints), the chain (muscles). Now if we think about the gears and the chain being our major moving parts, when everything is tuned well and running with efficiency there is no rubbing of the chain, the shifting is smooth and the transfer of power from the pedals (heart and lungs) to the cogs of the gears is easy. If the bike is under stress, unable to shift smoothly, or has not been lubricated with oil the chain will rub on the cogs, the pedals will have to work harder to turn the cogs and the components will wear and degrade quicker than they should, until eventually something breaks, just as in the human a muscle tears, or some part of a joint is damaged.

With this in mind most cyclists regularly service their bike if they can hear a click, a grind, or if they feel that there is some resistance to the normally smooth, silent operation. As individuals we should think about this with our bodies. Are we moving smoothly, are we creaking as we move, are we able to perform at the level that we expect? If the answer is no, then there is probably a bio-mechanical reason for the lack of function, and with some assistance we may be able to retrain and restrengthen the affected are and restore the function that has been compromised or lost, and at the same time assist in the prevention of an injury event occurring.

The structure of the body drives the function, with the function determining how the structure can operate, the two are inseparable and both demand our attention.

At Taylored Osteopathy, Sam and Craig strive to not just asses the structure but we look at how you function and place an emphasis on you improving and fine tuning the way you undertake your regular activities, so that you minimise the risk of injury.

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If you missed parts one or two they can be reached here.

Part One

Part Two