Valentines Day often paints many pictures of hearts. The heart is the seat of love. It is also a very important organ.
Heart health is not to be taken lightly. It is one of the leading causes of death claiming more than 33, 000 deaths in Canada each year and 1.4 million living with heart disease. Much of the focus for heart health largely ties into lifestyle. For many it means finding ways to be more active and having a closer look at diet. (My dear colleague Kathy Shackleton is great at setting your diet and lifestyle on the right track!) This is truly fundamental, however there are other ways to help the heart.
While often overlooked, or perhaps unknown, Osteopathic Manual Therapy can influence the heart. Osteopathy aims to improve function of structure my removing any restriction to the tissues or organs. This is also done by finding ways to improve the circulation to any afflicted area. One study by Henley et. al. found that osteopathy can influence the heart through direct manipulation of soft tissue and fascia of the neck. This had an affect on the vagal nerve, the autonomic nerve that affects the heart, by lowering heart rate.
This is one of the many ways that Osteopathy can affect the autonomic nervous system, the part of you that reacts to stress, causing physiological responses such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Any physical restrictions in the body have the potential to disrupt blood supply. Blood supply is so important because it is the source of nutrients, oxygen, and health to every tissue and cell in the body. Circulation is also a closed system, like a loop. This means that is there is a disruption anywhere in the path of circulation it is going to affect the entire circulation system. Kind of like how a traffic jam affects your overall commute.
When thinking of the heart, look at the big picture. Better circulation means better health. Love yourself, and give osteopathy a try!