Rrealizing how complex, sophisticated and magical our bodies are is an endless challenge. First of all, only a few meters of arteries and veins are visible and our nerves are completely hidden. Yet each of us harbors an incredible 60,000 miles of arteries and similar lengths of veins and nerves. Talk about efficient packaging. How is that even possible? Throw in thousands of miles of lymphatics and it would stretch from end to end almost seven times around the world.
There is no free lunch. Every inch of blood vessel and nerve must be able to accommodate our movement without straining the muscles, joints, bones, or internal organs to which they are connected. Otherwise, the range of motion, function and vitality of this structure will be reduced and we may experience pain or pathology.
Of all the organs to which blood vessels and nerves are directly connected, the heart and brain are the most important. Because the body is hierarchically organized, it bends backwards to protect every internal organ, but especially the heart and brain, from mechanical intrusion. But important as the heart, brain, and their wiring and wiring are, they nonetheless remain dumping grounds for emotional overload and distressing issues, beliefs, and attitudes. In other words, even unconstrained by mechanical trauma, which most adults experience in excess, emotional and spiritual content alone can impede our movement, impede the functioning of our internal organs, damage joints, and hasten the day when we need artificial replacements.
For example, one musher began an Iditarod with a frozen shoulder that left his right arm almost useless, possibly due to a combination of survivor regret and physical trauma. Somehow that shoulder and arm healed over the next brutal, bitterly cold, nearly sleepless 1,000 miles of trail. Who thought?!
Once, in a moment of panic, while hunting alone in the Alaska Range, I attempted to snatch a recently killed caribou on its back. The physical dilemma combined with the panic traveled up my extended medial nerve into my left shoulder. It stayed there until a colleague helped me loosen it, after which the pain subsided and my arm functioned as before.
A patient had been mauled by a grizzly bear who mistakenly thought her cubs were in danger, resulting in narrowing of an intercostal nerve in the patient’s chest. The patient assumed that this was either his own fright, the sow’s anger, or a combination of these. After that, his breathing improved and his recovery accelerated.
On the last day of a workshop, a classmate mentioned that she had had a headache of increasing intensity throughout the week. When I found a restriction in her right vertebral artery that severely restricted blood flow to her brain, I asked if the restriction was more physical, emotional, or spiritual. She said it was her sense of inadequacy compared to our classmates. The moment she let go of that and the restriction that came with it was lifted, we both felt arterial blood rush into her cerebellum and her headache began to dissipate.
The bottom line? Every inch of these more than 180,000 miles of blood vessels and nerves is susceptible to mechanical injury and deposition of emotional content. In fact, as the mind-body connection promises, the two often intertwine. Does Anyone You Know Have Symptoms That Baffle Doctors? All must not be lost: a manual therapist may be able to find and address the underlying cause. One place to look: iahp.com.
—Mike Macy, LMT, has specialized in craniosacral therapy and visceral manipulation for more than 30 years. He is accessible as an avid skater, hiker and bird watcher [email protected].