Trauma and Your Body’s Natural Expression of Health

Your body has an innate vitality and naturally seeks health. Health is a process of dynamic equilibrium of interconnections involving your musculoskeletal, nervous, immune, vascular, lymphatic and internal organ systems, providing an overall sense of well being.

A trauma to your body’s state of health may occur when you encounter a stress of any form:

  • an illness, such as a respiratory infection;
  • exacerbation of an underlying illness, as can happen with asthma, where diaphragmatic or rib restrictions further impede your breathing ability, or diabetes, when your gastrointestinal, vascular and lymphatic systems are disrupted
  • physical trauma, any kind of physical injury including sexual violence and assault
  • motor vehicle accident, sports or exercise related injuries
  • emotional and psychological trauma, especially for people of color, women and the LGBTQ community who continue to encounter discrimination and oppression, whether overt or subtle

Any trauma can result in musculoskeletal discomfort/pain (such as headache, shoulder, back or knee pain), visceral pain (such as a stomach ache or abdominal pain), or general/vague symptoms such as fatigue, dis-connection to self and/or others, or feelings of being in a fog.

Your body’s natural healing ability enables you to make adjustments on its own to resolve traumas; however, your body may have a difficult time healing from a significant single or repeated traumas.

Traumas can be lodged into the very fabric of your body; you can carry the traumas for a long time and later experience physical discomfort/pain, triggers or general/vague symptoms. Most of us intuitively understand that this occurs when the traumas are physical in nature, but less commonly acknowledged is that this occurs when the traumas are psychological and emotional. For example, sometimes emotional pain may manifest as chest, back and/or abdominal pain or throat tightness. An example that illustrates how long our bodies can hold trauma is birth trauma: for some infants the trauma is very visible, such as misshapen heads or torticollis, where a contracted neck muscles prevent the infant from using the full range of motion in the neck, even into adulthood; for other infants the birth trauma is not visible, and the effects of the trauma is carried into adulthood in less obvious but still significant ways. Physical, psychological and emotional traumas of childhood often go over-looked by ourselves and the adults in our lives. Unresolved childhood traumas can lead to deeply held or repressed anger, fear, hate, sorrow and shame; over time this can decrease our resilience to stress into adulthood.

Because your body is resilient, you may grow accustomed to the compensatory mechanisms your body adopts in order to function and express health as best as it can under the new conditions; for example through postural habits or more reliance on different muscles to accomplish the same tasks. For this reason, it may be difficult to pinpoint the original trauma itself, particularly when you experience multiple symptoms or areas of discomfort that appear unrelated.

Osteopathy and Reiki can assist with understanding connections within your body; that you may no longer need these same compensatory mechanisms; and establish a new dynamic equilibrium toward health and well being.