I’m sure everyone remembers as young children going to the dentist, and if you were like me you dreaded it! These days it’s not so bad and for the most part I look forward to getting my teeth cleaned and go 2 to 3 times a year for maintenance as I’m sure most of us do since this is what our dentist’s recommend!
They not only recommend these regular check ups and cleanings, but also want us to brush and floss our teeth daily as a regular maintenance routine. When you think about it, it does make good sense. After all, these are the tools we use for mastication – to break down the food that we eat into smaller pieces so that the stomach can break them down even further so we can extract the nutrients from them.
The by-product of this mastication process is food particles between our teeth as well as between our teeth and gums. Not only is this not a pleasant site, the particles, if left alone will cause our teeth to develop cavities, as well as plaque and tarter which could lead to gingivitis and the possibility of losing our teeth! And as if this wasn’t bad enough, in worst cases this could effect your health negatively, not to mention the bad breath, which would be the least of your problems!
So you can see the importance of regular daily maintenance! If you were to ask my dentist about the importance of daily flossing he would jokingly say, “Only floss the ones you want to keep!” Makes sense to me!
Not only do I believe in the maintenance of the teeth and gums, I believe we should maintain everything we use and want to preserve. Not only would they last longer, we would also get better quality from them! Isn’t that what it’s really about, quality?
Over the past 19 years as a Muscle Therapist for the relief of pain, enhancement of athletic performance, and to increase ones movement and overall quality of life, I have built a loyal following of clients! Some I have been seeing for regular maintenance for over a decade! Once a week, maybe more!
When some people hear this they look at me like I have a third eye, followed with, and “they’re still not better?”(when it comes to pain), or “they still have to keep coming?” (so frequently). To this I respond, “well of course they’re better! The reason they keep coming is because they want to continue to feel better and do the things they love and enjoy!” For these reasons they do regular maintenance.
Over the years I have done my own personal research with some of my clients, where I would see them once a week, a couple of times a week, and even 5 days in a row (working different areas of the body). The changes I have witnessed are amazing! Though I believe everyone has limits, there is no one that this work cannot help. I have also found that the more frequent the therapy, the better and longer lasting the results are!
When I’ve talked to doctors about my findings they would often say, “the problem with that Jim is that though what you do makes people feel better it is palliative (meaning that it treats the symptoms) and it doesn’t last.” Although they are wrong about the statement that it just treats the symptoms (and I do explain to them why), lets address the “it doesn’t last part“. To this statement I would usually ask them to give me an example of something that does last?
Examples I would ask them are, when I fill my gas tank up, will I ever have to fill it again? When someone goes to the gym to exercise to get healthier why do they keep going once they are? Sometimes I get real bad and ask, why do I have to eat and breathe today, I did that yesterday? Obviously I’m just being facetious! The point is, everything we use needs to be maintained!
Every machine known to man needs maintenance, and this includes the human machine! Could you think of any other machine that is more important? The car? The computer? The lawn mower? No, none of them are as important as our body and the health of it! Maybe the problem is that we do not look at the human body as a machine, when in fact, not only is it a machine, it is the most complex, but best put together/created ones on the planet, with no exceptions!
Yet these other machines are the ones we usually maintain. The reason we maintain these other machines is so they last longer and run more efficiently, i.e. better quality! But we didn’t just figure this out on our own, we were taught as young people by our fathers, mothers, teachers, doctors, etc, and they were taught by theirs, and so on. Our dentist, I would guess, started the education of the importance of maintenance with our teeth!
Think about it! From very early in life we are taught to brush and floss our teeth daily so we don’t get cavities and gum disease, etc! All this for 32 teeth! Which I 100% agree with! But we have billions if not trillions of soft tissue cells in our body that we were never taught to brush and floss (cleanse). Uh, now you see where I am going with that analogy!
So yes, over the years we were taught about exercising with weights to strengthen our muscles and to stretch our muscles which is great and also about maintenance. However this is not the type of maintenance I am talking about. Strengthening and stretching should be part of everybody’s maintenance program, but this will not make the soft tissues (everything that is not bone, teeth, or finger and toe nails) supple and pliable, which is key to a healthier musculoskeletal and fascial system.
By brushing and flossing (cleansing) these tissues you will change the viscosity of the ground substance (ground substance is the fluid in our bodies that all the tissues bathe in, and is the medium in which communication takes place between all the cells) from a gelatinous to a more fluid state, as well as calm the nervous system down, allowing the muscle fibers to melt and separate under the skilled therapist’s fingers, while also breaking up other adhesions from fibrotic tissues, thereby creating the pliability that a healthier musculoskeletal system should have!
Also, not only will increased pliability of these tissues happen right away, you will also mechanically draw fresh blood carrying nutrients and oxygen into theses tissues as well as accelerate the removal of toxins(i.e. metabolic waste) from them, creating a much healthier environment!
More is definitely better!
Through my research I have found that the more consistently you free these tissues up, the healthier they feel – not only subjectively, but objectively! Many times I will hear things from my clients like, “I can’t remember when I could move my neck this far, though I know it’s been years“. I had one client say after freeing his hip up multiple times that it hadn’t felt that loose in 30 years! Now that’s making changes, and I don’t make this stuff up!
Due to time constraints and financial cost however, one of the biggest challenges is doing the consistency that is needed to make the biggest changes. You see, the majority of people that have musculoskeletal problems are past the age of 40, so they have 40 plus years of gravity, repetitive strain and habitual patterns to brush and floss out. Imagine not brushing and flossing your teeth for that long. The prognosis doesn’t sound good, does it?
That being said, though more frequency is better, people of all ages can feel and move better then they currently are with the help of this type of bodywork (i.e. Muscle Therapy/Soft Tissue Manipulation) from a skilled therapist even with as little as once a month!
Unfortunately most people do not realize this, and I believe this all comes down to how we were educated since we were young, and is known as our belief system! So my recommendation is, if you want to feel physically better, then change your belief system and brush and floss (cleanse) your soft tissues regularly! General massage is wonderful, but it is superficial and is not what I am talking about!
When I ask clients I have been working with for a while and are now in their maintenance phase, in the perfect world where time and money wasn’t an issue would they get muscle/Myofascial therapy every day (this would be on different parts of the body)? The answer is always yes, without a doubt!
Over the years many of the clients that would come into my office would say things like, “it hurts here or it hurts there, but I don’t know what I did. I just woke up and couldn’t turn my neck or my back was stiff“. Then they would ask, “what do you think happened?” Many times I would say “life happened! Over the past 40 plus years you have been opposing gravity, using repetitive motion, and holding on to habitual patterns.” (see my article titled “How Full is Your Glass?”)
To oppose gravity we must use our musculoskeletal/fascial and nervous systems to keep us stable just to stand or sit upright.
We use repetitive motion when we move, work, walk, or do any kind of physical activity. To do this, we repetitively contract and relax our muscles, and over time some of these muscles and other soft tissues shorten while others elongate and adapt to these new lengths making our bodies more unstable, not to mention the inflammation in the tissues from the constant tension and friction, thus creating the repetitive strain.
Then we have habitual patterns. Have you ever seen someone walking down the street from far away and though you cannot see their face you can easily recognize who it is based on the way they walk or hold themselves? This is an example of a habitual pattern, and we all have them!
It is these main three things that I am talking about when I say to a client “life happened“. Not only do these three physical stresses cause the tension in our body to increase over a life time, but in some area’s where there is extreme physical stress over long periods these soft tissues thicken and adhere to each other or to bone, thereby decreasing our pliability and range of motion (ROM) even more! Not to mention, accidents or minor/major injuries that may happen to us along the way over this 40 plus year period!
Picture a 2 month old baby who can put his or her feet in their mouth, now fast forward 80 years to see a man or woman who has so much rigidity that they have to turn their whole body 180 degrees to see who or what is behind them. This is life and you and I are somewhere in between.
You may not be able to get back the pliability of the 2 month old, but I guarantee with the help from a skilled therapist’s hands you can restore a lot of this pliability in a relatively short time, and with regular brushing and flossing(i.e. cleansing) of your soft tissues you can reverse a lot more and slow down the rest of this life causing rigidity that plagues the 80 year old!
Knowing that we don’t live in a perfect world and time and money are an issue for most people, one should determine the time and money they can allocate to getting and maintaining a healthier musculoskeletal/fascial system and get started!
Not only does this work, there is no way it cannot!