Redefining Health (Preview)

Health is the term we use to describe the ability to withstand our non-stop battle to resist and overcome external forces.

After we get out of bed external forces are continually trying to do us harm. Illness and injury result from an inability to respond effectively to those forces.

Whether it is the ability to run 200 metres, swim against a current, lift and carry a load, jump off a 6-foot fence, cope with divorce, manage stress at work or digest a fatty meal – external forces are always testing our state of health.

An inability to respond appropriately to external forces is the cause of all known injury and illness.

Defending ourselves against external forces relies on our ability to detect them (sensory input) and our response to them (motor output). Our best chance at optimal health comes from having an optimised ability to withstand external forces.

NOTHING is more important to your patient’s health and wellbeing than their ability to withstand external forces – and yet it is unusual for this to ever be directly tested.

Measuring health has always been a problem in medicine but increasingly there is one measurement that accurately predicts both longevity and resistance to disease.

A major study published in the British Medical Journal in July 2008 measured muscle strength relative to muscle mass and found that weaker men tended to die earlier than stronger men, even after allowing for activity level and cardiovascular fitness.

The researchers measured the maximum strength of over 8000 men and followed them for an average of 19 years. They found the highest death rates from all causes, including heart disease and cancer in men with the lowest strength relative to their muscle mass.

The researchers in this study measured one-rep maximums in the bench press and squat and adjusted for muscle mass. One-rep maximum does not just measure strength, but also the ability to control and reverse an eccentric contraction. The effect was still present in those who did no exercise at all, meaning that exercise was NOT the major factor in determining strength.

Perhaps one day – doctors will spray their patient with flu virus to see whether or not they get sick and how quickly they recover. Perhaps the psychologist will yell at their patient for half an hour to see how they respond to stress and the chiropractor will measure how much you can lift without hurting your back. Somehow, I doubt it this will ever be mainstream. The custom of regarding those at the periphery of the “bell” curve as “abnormal” and everyone else as normal is deeply entrenched.

As health professionals, we take pride in collecting and recording objective measurements to record our patients’ progress – blood pressure, range of motion, hematocrit, FCV, TSH, cholesterol, bone density, size, shape, mass – everything, in fact, except the two things that really matter, HEALTH and PAIN.

We prefer objective measurements to monitor and validate our treatment efficacy, we therefore need a quick, convenient and reliable way to measure our patients` ability to resist external force.

This is the basis for using reliable manual muscle testing to measure inhibition and overall health. We are testing the ability of the patient to resist an external force by testing whether they can control and then reverse an unpredictable external force.

Later in this course, we will cover the theoretical mechanisms for how muscle tone might also influence chemical and emotional health.

Back to: Essentials of Afferent Input > Module 1 - Overview

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