The Body Plastic

Connective tissue in our body holds us together – covering every muscle, organ and bone and underlies every inch of skin covering our body. It is the one substance connecting all parts of our body to each other, inside and out. It supports, protects and binds us into a continuous, unbroken whole. A change of position in one part of the body, will affect changes in all parts of the body through the network of connective tissue.

Fascia is the connective tissue that covers muscle strands, muscle bundles and the outer covering of a muscle. Collagen fibrils in fascia are constantly replacing themselves. When we become sedentary, muscles stay side-by-side for long periods of time without movement. Collagen fibrils of one muscle can grow into the collagen fibrils of another muscle. Muscles can no longer slip and slide along each other, reducing our movement, range of motion and flexibility. Often, it leads to stiffness and joint pain.

Improving poor body mechanics means moving your body in erect alignment most of the time, allowing connective tissue to replace itself in a position of good alignment. You may temporarily sit in a meeting for a few hours or be cramped on public transportation, but occasional poor posture will not ruin your good alignment. Your body can be held in poor posture for short periods as an event, but maintaining good body alignment requires keeping your body in good alignment as a way of life, by practicing good postural habits when standing, sitting and sleeping.

Human beings are born without the instinctive neuromuscular reflexes to maintain an erect, upright position. Our alignment, good or poor, is a result of habits and conditioned reflexes. We constantly adapt to our environment and activities. Since muscles and soft tissue determine the position of our bones, we can look at our body as a structural entity that can be shaped and changed. The body is, in effect, plastic by nature.

Diane Whitacre, Structural Anatomist, RT ©2018

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