And, life, is movement.
When movement stops, you die. That goes for immobile life forms too.Even plants move. They grow and bend, they transport water, minerals, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Stop that transport, and the plant dies. Now, if a plant that is rooted to the ground needs movement, imagine what the most versatile mover from all of evolution needs?
Humans can swim, crawl, climb, walk, run, jump and hop. Some humans fly with wingsuits, leaping off tall points defying death with little adjustments of their limbs and head, trusting nothing but some fabric that was built by the clever hands of another human. Or these days, built by machines that were built by clever humans.
Just keeping that fantastic locomotor system idling, is an even more fascinating and wondrous system, that is in motion while you’re still. If it stops, cells sicken and die.
I’m talking about the fascia and lymphatic systems.
Even talking about these systems as seperate from the rest of the body is stupid, but, I can’t think of another way. That’s how the human mind works. It breaks complex things down into manageable bits so that it can absorb and repurpose the information into packets that it can use. Pretty much what our digestive system does with food.
You might remember from biology class about how the lymphatic system brings back the fluid that filters out of the blood vessels. How does it do that? The blood has a massive big pump pushing it around the body. The lymphatic system is a lot more subtle. The vessels so fine, so tiny, that we discovered them in some parts of our body only recently. The brain and bone, for example. Can you imagine how humbling that is? We can see all the way across galaxies, and look deep into atoms, but, we didn’t know there was a whole network of vessels silently doing their job inside our brain, deep in our bones. It works silently. You didn’t even need to know that it was there. It just works. All it asks for is the correct inputs. Adequate water, fresh air, the right kind of movement, clean food, regular, natural sleep.
Smooth muscle in those tiny capillaries will push the filtered fluid from all the active tissues in your body towards the bigger lymphatic vessels. Valves exist in those bigger vessels to prevent backflow. They do their own pumping too, with their own smooth muscles. The pressure is small, barely enough to keep it moving. They have their own pulse. A slow wave that starts from your limbs and converges towards your chest. The more synchronised that wave is, the better the flow will be through the system.
That almost insignificant pressure needs every bit of help it can get. Breathing in, will help. Breathing out will help too. Obviously. An abnormal breathing pattern that recruits the accessory muscles of the neck all the time, will strangle the return flow of the head and upper limbs significantly. The head forward posture that we adopt when we’re focused on something exacerbates the issue. Computers, phone screens and books. As hunter gatherers, the head forward posture was essential in procuring food. Depth perception for aiming spears, stones and arrows was helped by craning your neck and cocking your head to a side, watching your prey from different angles before you reset your posture and fired the projectile from a position that let you produce maximum power. That would last a few minutes at the maximum. Now we hunt characters and numbers on a small screen with weird fonts for 8 to 12 hours straight. A missed keystroke, might cost you a promotion. The hunt lasts decades, the stakes are high. In your monkey mind, there is no difference between the missed throw of a sharpened stick at a fat deer, and a poorly formatted powerpoint presentation. The stress is high. It’s not as high as when you’re hunting boar while avoiding a sabre toothed tiger, but it’s low level, lasting for years together. It takes it toll. The more anxious you are, the further forward your chin gets thrust. The more hunched over your shoulders are. All the while choking off the flow back into your lymphatic system. Breathing gets shallower, producing less suction to assist the weak pumping of the lymphatics. The shallow breathing that provided a stable platform while throwing a spear successfully, now works against you because the setting and demands on
the body have changed. Evolutionary mismatch.
Gravity can make it tough. Which is why it is important to lie down 8 hours a day. The downtime fir the rest of your body is used to run the maintenence schedule. While you sleep, the lymphatic system works on overdrive, clearing the debris of the previous 16 hours. Setting a regular time for that maintenence work helps the crew do the best job possible. In our hunter gatherer past, the lights went out at 6pm. The firewood stacked in the came lasted another 2 hours. It was snooze time by 8pm. There was I reason to stay awake till 3am, because there was no Netflix. There was chill, though, and a lot of it, but it was in the dark. Evolutionary mismatch again. The artificial light that made our lives so much better, now start working against us.
Contracting muscles will help move it along, but if a particular muscle stays contracted for too long the flow will get blocked. The contraction and relaxation will work like a heart. If it stays contracted, it will not pump. If it stays relaxed it will not pump. It has to pulse. Ebb and flow. Like the breath, like the tide, like the light of day. Movement is life. And life’s movement has a pulse. It is not mechanical, like a rolling wheel. It will breakdown if the pressure is constant. It needs to rise and fall. Like the breath.
Pressure can’t be sustained without resistance. Think back to your physics class. The higher the resistance to flow, greater the pressure. And unlike pipes in a machine, our own vessels are infinitely smart, varying resistance, diameter according to the demand of the tissues they supply. This intelligent plumbing needs energy to function. Raw materials for construction and maintenance. Myriad chemicals for signaling and precise control. All of those need to come from the food and water you consume. A diet deficient in any of the thousands of constituents a body needs will result in malfunction. Inflammation will worsen resistance. Furring, blocking, scarring. Making valves malfunction. Inflammation is worsened by stress, by a poor diet and lack of sleep. That inflammation causes pain, the pain leads to limitation of movement, which worsens the flow of lymph, impedes the smooth glide of a perfect fascial sling. A mechanism of healing and repair from our past now becomes a reason for sickness in our distorted present
Evolutionary mismatch. Again.
The fascia that envelops all the structures in our body provides a means of putting this all together in mechanical packaging that reacts intelligently to your needs. Temperature, pressure, diet, hydration, even mood.
The fascia and lymphatics have been neglected for the longest time. Leaving diseases that are easily fixed, without even a diagnosis. Forget about treatment.
Here’s the kicker. These systems are robust and fix themselves really well. All you need to do is give your body what it expects from it’s evolutionary past. You don’t need medicines or a “treatment”. If you commit yourself to a natural movement, diet and lifestyle, the problems disappear. As if by magic.