Driving Changes in Your Body and Brain:  The Body Reacts and Adapts to What We Ask of It!

The structures of the body react to the stresses we impose upon it: So clear is the evidence of the link between stress (stress is not being utilized here in its most common form but rather as anything that causes a disruption of the psychological or physical equilibrium) and adaptations that we call these laws. These include Wolff’s Law (in relation to bones) and Davies’ Law (in relation to connective tissue). 

These rules allude to the inherent capacity of the body to respond and adapt to our behaviors, actions, thoughts and environment. These changes occur immediately in response to the stressor (that which causes a disruption of the psychological or physical equilibrium) and will revert back to original conditions when the stressor is removed. If the stress occurs repetitively long term adaptive changes will occur both in structure and function. These changes again can be positive or negative depending upon what is driving them.

These adaptations to stress are true for almost all tissues of the body including muscle, bone, connective tissue and even the brain. If we were to take your arm and place it in a sling (absence of normal stressors but still effects the physical and psychological equilibrium) and leave your arm immobilized for a month, many changes would occur including a decrease in range of motion, loss of muscle mass and strength, decreased function of the nerves, loss of bone mass, decrease in the number of blood vessels, and changes in the part of the brain that usually receives information from your arm and the area that controls the arms muscles.. 



The ligns of force of stress can even be seen in the bones of the body.  In this example, we see the laying down of the cells and bony matrix to withstand the compressive and tensile loads experienced within the head of the femur.  This is an example of Wolff's Law

Tissue Adaptation to Physical Stress: A Proposed “Physical Stress Theory” to Guide Physical Therapist Practice,Education, and Research


It is also a stress, where we continuously place demands on the structures that drives changes in muscle properties when we do weight training exercises, changes in our heart and blood vessels when we do cardiovascular exercise such as biking and jogging, and changes in our brain when we learn new skills, meditate or perform mental/cognitive exercises.

We want to utilize these principles when we are helping an injured body structure heal.  Osteopathy attempts to create a conducive environment for healing addressing biomechanical problems, and helping to ensure proper blood flow and nervous system functioning. Functional progressive exercises, starting with simple exercises, increasing in stress as the tissue is healing helps to promote strong growth and repair and accelerate the healing process. Care must be taken as not to over stress the injured tissue, and lack of stress affects healing and repair, the Buddha Nature of Your Body, or the middle way.

If we wish to try to drive changes in our body we must introduce stressors.  In order to create long term adaptive changes certain rules must be followed including:

 the stress must be of sufficient intensity and duration
 repetition is important
 changes will be specific to the demands placed upon the structures
 attention and behavioral relevance potentiates changes.
 your body also needs sufficient time to make the changes, for the  

    genes to express themselves and ramp up activity, and for the
    physiology to adapt to changing conditions and environment.  They
    need rest.
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© 2018 by René Pelletier, D.O.