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Move Well and Move Often

Movement. How important is it? And how much does it effect your life?

In this edition of our wellness blog we want to address the importance of movement and the impact it has on your overall health and wellness. Of all the articles we’ve written and blog posts we put up, even the website content we have, this topic is the most important. Human movement, biomechanics, healthy activity… these are all essential aspects of the Wellness Philosophy here at The Wellness Center of Chester County. Every visit is an attempt to assess the quality of your movement, make improvements where necessary, and maintain consistent movement quality moving forward. This article is an attempt to scratch the surface of why it is so important to move well, and move often!

Everyone, I’m sure, has been in a situation where they were forced to be “immobilized” for lack of better term, for an extended period of time. Whether on a long flight, stuck in a car ride, or simply bed ridden from an unfortunate illness. Think to a time when you were unable to move for a few hours, days, or maybe even weeks. I want you to put yourself back in that situation. What was the day like, who was with you, where were you going or doing? What were the circumstances of that day or time period? I want you to remember specifics about the weather, the atmosphere, and your general surroundings. Now take that to the next level and try to remember your mood. Were you grumpy or easily agitated? Did you find yourself losing patience? Did you enjoy being “immobilized”? What was your experience like? How did it make your body feel? Were your joints sore, did you become fidgety, could you find any source of comfort? How did you sleep at night? How did you feel in the morning?

I ask these questions with certainty and confidence that your experience was negative. No matter what the surrounding day was like, the people you were with, the circumstance you were in, because you couldn’t move, you couldn’t feel well! Your mood was affected, your temper was affected, your relationships were affected, that way your body felt was affected, you couldn’t enjoy the day, you couldn’t sleep well, and you felt like crap in the morning. I want to make something become very real for everyone reading this post, and that is the unbelievable sadness that I feel for people who go through this every day. Some people live in this constant state of chronic pain, constant aggravation, and consistently feel unwell all the time. And the worst part is, no amount of ibuprofen, welbutrin, or ambien helps! The problem is not solved by medication. The solution to your feelings of anxiety, pain, depression, short temper, lack of sleep, and more is to get up and MOVE. The more you move, the better you feel. The better you FEEL the better perspective you have on life, events, relationships, patience, willingness, etc. Movement is critical to your overall health and wellness. Let’s look into how a little deeper.

God designed humans to move. We are supposed to hunt for your food, harvest our fruits and vegetables, ambulate to the distances or places we desire to travel to, etc. In that design there are mechanisms at work in your body that support themselves. Now I could list all of the various specific examples in the body and systems that are effected, but in the essence of time, I want to use 2 mechanisms that will illustrate this point well.

Of the most important affects movement has on your entire body, one of the most significant is movement’s impact on circulation. There are 2 circulatory systems in your body, the blood system and the lymphatic system. Let’s discuss the blood first.

Blood is the primary circulatory fluid in the body. It’s purpose is to deliver essential ions, nutrients, and fluid to the various parts of your body so they can function appropriately. When the blood supply to ANY tissue (bone, ligament, joint, muscle, tendon, nerve, organ, skin, etc.) is compromised, that tissue undergoes what is called necrosis; the cells of the tissue die. Body tissue, by definition, is a collection of cells. When a lack of blood supply is sustained for a period of time a significant amount of cells die off. This eventually leads to tissue damage, tissue dysfunction, and often times pain. Making sure that the blood is circulating is ESSENTIAL to not only maintaining healthy body but maintaining tissue functions. In fact, because the blood supply is so important to the entire body, God blessed us all with a vital organ called the heart, to pump the blood throughout our bodies and sustain our tissue health. That being said, some hearts are more efficient than others. It is important to mention that the heart is a muscle, just like your biceps and gluts. Actually, the heart is the most important muscle in your entire body. And the good news is, because it is a muscle, you can strengthen it. And not only can you make your heart stronger, you can make it deliver that vital blood to all of your tissues to maintain their health, function, and integrity. Guess how you can do that? That’s right, by MOVING.

To bring this message home I want to summarize the bottom line. The more you MOVE, the better your heart CIRCULATES blood, the more nutrients you bring to EVERY tissue in your body, the healthier ALL of your tissues are, the BETTER you feel, the more HEALTHY you are! So move well, and move often!

Now to the second circulatory system in the body, the lymphatic system. This is like the little brother to the blood. While it is very important for certain functions, it lives in the shadow of it’s more important older brother blood. While the lymphatic system is a circulatory system, it does not have the convenience of a heart like blood does. The lymphatic system circulates through… you guessed it… movement. When you activate a muscle to move a joint in your body the squeezing motion of the muscle fibers squeezes the vessels of the lymphatic system and pushes the fluid throughout the system. But, it begs the question, why is this important?

The lymphatic fluid is an essential fluid in our body which carries very specific cellular components to do very specific jobs in our bodies. One of these components are our white blood cells like macrophages, neutrophils, esosinophils, and others. Their primary job is to fight infections. Ever have the sense that you’re about to get a cold and you have this urge to go for a run? Somehow after the run your feel amazing, and for some reason you don’t get sick? Or maybe you’ve heard the expression, “you need to sweat it out?” This old wives tale actually has some science behind it. The movement you are engaging in is circulating your lymphatic system so efficiently, among other benefits, that you body can get new, healthy, fresh, white blood cells that fight infection constantly circulated to the site o necessity. For example, let’s say you have a respiratory infection in your upper respiratory tract. Your nose is stuffy, your head is achy, and you just can’t stop sniffling and sneezing. Your body will do it’s best with the white blood cells currently in the region but when they tire out you’re going to need back up! You need a new batch of fresh cells to continue the battle. Movement pushes the lymphatic fluid along so that your body can call in the cavalry and finish off the infection.

Not only does your lymphatic system fight infections, it also is the primary system that heals damaged tissues. Once a tissue is injured your body initiates a lymphatic response called inflammation. For more info on inflammation see our article on Icing. This is a good thing! Right behind inflammatory cells are new cells called progenitor cells. Progenitor cells are called healing cells, they create new tissue. When you move, you circulate the lymphatic system to push the inflammation through the system, reduce pain, and increase the amount of healing cells that reach the injured site. Movement helps fight infections and heals your injured tissues!

At the end of the day, Movement improves circulation of both the blood and lymphatic fluid which are critical in dictating how you feel, how well your tissue integrity is maintained, and how well your body functions as a whole. So get up! Move! Move Often! and MOVE WELL!


About the author

Chiropractor in Exton with a Master's Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition, Board Certification in Physiotherapy, and Biomechanics Expert. I am very passionate about solving pain problems and look forward to helping solve your pain problem today!