Did you know obesity is a risk factor for many musculoskeletal conditions, for example (and possibly the most common) knee joints? At ARC Osteopathy we believe we need to recognise - and this week to highlight - the links between a healthy lifestyle and healthy joints.
Excess weight increases the demand on all weight bearing joints, and with more weight going through them, there is of course a higher risk of injuries as well as poorer capacity for recovery. Now a lot of people will give the ‘helpful’ advice to lose weight to avoid this, and we know the best method of sustainable weight loss is a healthy diet and EXERCISE. However due to the increase demand and pressure of the weight on our joints, this reduces our capacity to exercise while increasing the potential of injury. If we have already suffered an injury, exercising can become even more difficult or sometimes impossible.
Osteopaths will encourage exercise and movement, but recognise that obesity, for the reasons above, can inhibit this, therefore they can expertly prescribe a series of remedial stretches and gentle exercises to put into practice that will not be harsh or put too much pressure on the joints. Osteopaths understand that the body is reliant on motion to keep muscles and joints in their best condition and strength. Without movement, muscles can waste providing less support for the joints – this in turn can cause the cartilage in the joints to degenerate too, so if moving more is almost always the best option, your Osteopath can help you find movement that is suitable for you.
As well as joint issues, if you carry excess weight around the middle, it can have an effect on the spine, pulling your lower back into extension (you may notice a curve to your spine when looking side on). This is due to the weight pulling and the body attempting to keep upright instead of tipping forward. It is extremely clever and is counterbalancing its own weight, but this can lead to lower back pain, injury and even degeneration of the spine, greatly reducing your mobility.
Your Osteopath can help with lower back issues with manual manipulation and muscle work to activate areas and help you correct your posture without the strain, while of course getting you to move more by again finding manageable exercises and activities to help you, help yourself.
Did you know too that excess body fat has been connected to reduced cardiovascular ability? This also has an impact on the musculoskeletal system. A reduction in blood flow means reduced delivery of essential nutrients to the muscles, joints and tissues, which will compromise their structural integrity. This can therefore hinder recovery of each area too.
Your Osteopath can provide soft or deep tissue massage that can help stimulate blood flow to the places that need it most. You may find these are the muscles that ache, the tendons that are tender, or the ligaments that are just not healing. With massage and advice, Osteopathy encourages holistic recovery and ways to maintain a healthy balance in your body overall.
There are many reasons you may put on weight and many factors that can negatively impact your health, these may range from physical conditions such as injury, poor postural habits or trauma, to stress, disease or illness. Not all of these can be solved with a better diet, so see your Osteopath to help address deeper issues within your body with effective, natural ways to aid weight loss and a stay healthy.