In over 30 years of working in physiotherapy with people and their bodies my love and appreciation for the body just grows and grows. I love how it has its own intelligence and knows how to bring itself back to balance from inside out. I continue to learn so much from our bodies and I have learned so much about the amazing qualities of our connective tissue.
What is Connective Tissue?
The connective tissue is our body’s foundational tissue, as a baby we are all connective tissue that then specialises into brain, bone, muscle and organs etc. The connective tissue (CT) is a network of tissues that support every part of the body from the tiniest cell to the largest organ or muscle. In the structural system of CT it is like a fine, flexible and strong web that holds everything in place, keeping everything connected and providing nutrients to each part of the body. It not only supports our natural vitality but also in its ideal fluid state allows that wonderful smooth rotational movement of the spine and the pain free sliding/gliding of all our joints.
Our bodies have a natural rhythmic flow of energy that pulses through our CT – it supports the CT to be fluid and flexible allowing us to move naturally gently, which is a quality we all have. When we move in a hard or driven way, or push ourselves physically when our body is telling us to slow down or stop, our CT thickens and becomes hard and stiff.
Stiffness is not an age determined thing – it is the body responding to how we treat it and how we move in it. The stiffness from thickened, hard or scarred CT can be from physical strain, sustained emotional strain or from systemic illness that changes the nature of our CT.
If we were to tear or injure our CT when we have a chronic illness – it may take more time to heal than when we are in full health but what determines its full healing is how we treat the injured part and our body as it is healing. If we are more gentle with how we move, rest when we need to and gradually return to our normal daily activities, then our CT can heal and become fluid again. If we push the body too hard and too soon in the healing phase the CT lays down thickened fibers as it repairs and there is a remaining stiffness in the injured tissue.
We are never too old or never too sick to heal our CT or transform it from stiff, thickened tissue to more fluid flexible tissue. No matter how ill we have been or are, our CT remolds and rejuvenates itself every few months. Moving gently in a smooth, rhythmical way is what allows the CT to be fluid and flexible.
To move gently comes from reconnecting to that natural gentleness that is inside us all. Being more aware of where your feet are as you walk or feeling your fingers as you gently open and close doors are the more practical examples that supoort moving gently. When we are chronically ill we do tend to slow down the intensity with which we do things – so it is not a big leap to move gently from there.
Moving gently is so nourishing for our bodies that when we do that our CT softens any hard areas and becomes more fluid – its like giving our bodies a grease and oil change. Something that less vital bodies especially appreciate and need.