Why do bodies thicken and get stiff?

Bodies change in response to stress, and stress occurs on a continuum.  Too much stress causes strain, distortion, poor health, malcontent, poor cognition, disruption of our immune system, etc whereas the right amount of stress enhances health, vitality and a sense of well-being. Being on a continuum means that well being and strain are possible at any moment depending on our circumstances.

daisiesConditions that encourage a state of well being are: getting enough rest; eating nutritionally balanced foods; being in appropriately challenging environments; having shelter and a degree of comfort; social situations that work for us; feeling loved by others; having meaningful work and/or position in society; ability to be vulnerable; having enough and reliable income; etc.  The above states help our bodies to heal and function well.  When we work “too much” (individually determined) generally your body will begin to hurt.  Repetitive movements in the absence of lengthening movements over time will cause tissue thickening and pain.

Sleep – deep sleep is characterized by REM sleep and deep relaxation creates the condition where our joint capsules literally open and have the space for tissue rebuilding and repair.  Thickened tissue interferes in appropriate perfusion of muscles and joints thereby slowing our body’s ability to repair and heal.

Negative emotions (individually determined) cause our bodies to “flex”, contract and shorten.  We assume a fetal position when sad or depressed.  Tree on front door croppedWhen we are happy, ecstatic or receive great news this causes our bodies to become big or “extend”, we feel like throwing our arms up in the air and screaming, “Hallelujah” or “Right On” or “Yes” or “Say it Brother” or “…”

Continuum – everything above and more influences how our bodies behave and function hence think in terms of incremental process.  You want to optimize all functions in your body to maintain your best healing potential.

Finally, I will look at models of wound healing for guidance.  We know from extensive observation and research that when tissue is injured it thickens.  Additionally, it sets off an elaborate cascade of events to assure the survival of the you.  I will focus on the release of fibroblasts/cytes as they are the building blocks of connective tissue.

Tissue damage stimulates fibrocytes (and mitosis of fibroblasts) which form the basis of tissue repair and thickening.  Repetitive motion and strain cause the formation of collagenous materials for reinforcement along the lines of strain and stress in your body.  Surgical incisions and blunt trauma cause tissue thickening known as scar tissue – another form of thickened collagenous tissue formation.  Inactivity and tissue contact with inanimate objects (chairs, couches, beds, etc) cause connective tissue to contract – think of how painful sitting, bed rest and travel are.