How Physical Treatment Can Improve Mental Health


  This article was originally published by FreeMotionTherapy.ca.

My first introduction to the physiological manifestations of mental health was during my University undergrad degree in Kinesiology. It is emphasized that your mental health is dependent on proper physiological balance. When the brain and body is outside of this balance, we begin to see decompensation. Physical decompensation can effect or mental functioning in many ways from tissue tensions, spinal fluid production, neurotransmitter production and even proper neuron functioning in the brain. In fact some psychiatric disorders (such as stress) have shown to have a relationship to physiological and cranial restrictions. Fortunately there are a number of ways to help improve the physiological balance and improve the mental health of an individual.

One key factor is to ensure that you are feeling comfortable in your body. By this I don’t mean being confident in yourself (although also important), but also that you feel that your body is moving freely. Restrictions in your body can lead to dysfunction in not just your mobility but also fluid movement, energy levels, tissue tension and overall comfort. These restrictions can lead to decreased nutrition to the cells of the body; decreasing function and making you feel low on energy. They can further lead to decreased absorption, production and distribution of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin (produced in the intestines) or cortisol (produced in the adrenal glands), all which are known to affect an individual’s temperament.

By working with these tissues to release muscle and tissue tension as well as working to improve visceral (gut) function, the overall flow and function of the bodies systems can be improved. Most notably by working on the above mentioned systems, Osteopathic manual therapy can help to improve blood flow and general nutrition to the body and to the brain.

Also helping with the overall function and flow is to work directly with tissue and tensions in the cranium itself. As noted above, there are several areas in the cranium that can have an effect on the tension and functioning, leading to changes on our functioning and overall psyche. Improper balance in these systems can lead to changes like decreased mental function as well as headaches, which we all know can alter our moods significantly. Cranial treatment to these areas has been shown to have a profound effect on both local and body wide function. By helping to deal with these restrictions and tensions, you give yourself improved cerebral function, an improved ability to deal with every day stressors, you can feel happier and more comfortable in your body, and be on the road to an overall better state of mental health.
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