The Patient as a Holistic Entity
Successful treatment of Myofascial Pain Syndromes must include all aspect of the holistic health care approach. Holistic health is an approach that recognizes that people are not vessels bringing isolated complaints to the doctor but are a complex of the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual components inextricably woven together. Any attempt at healing must take all these aspects into consideration. People are not one of these things or another; but all of these.
Nutrition, as discussed in the previous post, is part of your physical aspect. Another part of your physical life is exercise. Early in most treatment protocols, a mild level of physical activity seems helpful for most patients. Depending on your fitness level; gentle, controlled stretching might be a good place to start. If this is not a challenge, then mild aerobic activity, concentrating on the large muscle groups, is good. Keep in mind that the typical “American” aerobic activity is really anaerobic. Work into more strenuous exercise as your body tells you.
Here is a valuable rule: If, in the middle of your workout, someone says “Hi, how are you?”, you should be able to respond without having to take a series of deep breaths. If you have to “catch your breath” before responding then you have gone beyond aerobic exercise into anaerobic. This is not your goal. It is uncomfortable and non-productive. Over-exercise isn’t fun and it increases the chance that you’ll burn out and quit exercising. Exercise should be fun!
Beware! You are about to enter a muscle physiology paragraph. I will avoid the bioelectrical chemistry involved in how this happens, but it is important to recognize several facts. One major component of your overall energy level and THE source of energy for your muscles is a component within each muscle cell called mitochondria. These are microscopic power plants that create the molecules your body uses for energy. The more aerobically fit we are, the more mitochondria are found in each cell. Picture this: A marathon runner has so many mitochondria in each muscle cell that they burn more calories and create more energy while sleeping than most of us do when we’re exercising!
Your body will create as many mitochondria as it thinks it needs. This does not happen overnight and does not happen with anaerobic exercise. Slowly increasing your aerobic fitness over a 3 to 6 month period will change your energy levels and, as a pleasant side-effect, will help you convert body fat to lean muscle mass. For more information on this subject in an easy to read book, look for “Fit or Fat” by Covert Bailey.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the human being is made up of a number of components. Treating the physical aspect alone will make you feel somewhat better but will not completely solve the problem. Mental, emotional, social and spiritual considerations have to come into play. I will continue to discuss these in the next post, “Exercising Your Mind”.