Restorative practices are a way to reset the nervous system in order to counter the effects of stress. Our bodies are designed to regularly have deep rest. This calms the nervous system, flushes stress hormones, and rebalances internal processes like digestion. Without enough restoration, our bodies can become locked into chronic stress patterns that create dysfunction in our physical, mental, and emotional lives. 

Restorative practices create a cascade of health benefits in the body. The heart rate will slow, the breath will deepen, and blood pressure will regulate. Common areas of muscular tension like the diaphragm, pelvis, and neck and shoulders will begin to relax and release.  As the musculoskeletal tension along the spine releases, the vertebrae will be able to make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system will also re-regulate itself, which helps to turn down the volume of pain signals, and other systems of the body like digestion, circulation, and circadian rhythms, will also reset and rebalance.

Restorative practice can be done in a classroom setting, like a restorative movement class. Props and blankets are often used to support the body, and then the goal is to allow the body to be completely held by gravity instead of muscle tension. Paying attention to the breath and coordinating the breath with gentle, deliberate movement also helps you move into restorative mode. 

Bodywork and acupuncture treatments also have restorative effects. Receiving bodywork and acupuncture treatments cues the nervous system to switch out of stress mode, reduce pain signals, and begin tissue repair. This restorative effect increases the other benefits of the session, working with your bodyworker to release muscle tension or making it easier to rebalance and regulate systems of the body through acupuncture. 

Restorative practice is a proven way to offer the body and mind opportunities for deep rest. This rest then turns the complex systems of the body away from stress, creating space for deep healing and rebalancing.

Dr. Gurjeet Birdee explains how Integrative Health Care treats Chronic Pain:

Chronic Pain is a complex condition where the body has some kind of injury that is taking a long time to heal. But it is not just the tissue that needs to heal, because the brain begins to adjust and get used to that pain in a way that can be harmful. This is called Central Sensitization.

Central Sensitization is where the brain decreases its threshold for perceived pain, so the nerves from the area where there may be chronic injury carry increased pain up to the brain. The brain then tries to protect that area by making it especially sensitive to movement. Unfortunately, over a long period of time, not moving that area can cause further harm. We can develop limited function and fear of moving those areas.

Integrative Medicine can help.

Bodywork can open up those tissues and increase range of motion

Relaxation Techniques can decrease the central sensitization that is happening in the brain. These techniques include:

    • Mind-Body Therapy
    • Somatic Therapies
    • Integrative Counseling

All of these combined can make a big difference in decreasing chronic pain.

 

Spending most of your day sitting down changes your body. It can cause imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, which can cause tightness and pain. It can also affect systems of the body like your circulatory system and your metabolism. These changes can be treated and corrected through integrative care.

Sitting down tightens the hip flexor and hamstring muscles. Over time, the body begins to hold this shape, shortening and loosening relevant muscles so that you are adapted to sitting down. Unfortunately, this means that when you then go to stand, walk, run, and move around, your body is no longer able to do that as easily.

As your body adapts to sitting down, you may develop low back pain. This is often caused by the way the hamstrings, hip flexors, and other muscles affect the alignment of your pelvis. You may also develop knee pain, as the muscles that affect the knee begin to work differently and in ways that are less suited to staying mobile.

Sitting down for long periods of time also affects the systems of the body. The cardiovascular system slows down, delivering less oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Because your large muscle groups are more relaxed, they use less glucose, which means more sugar is left in the bloodstream. Sitting also slows your metabolism, reducing levels of the fat-burning enzyme lipase by 90%.

Integrative health care can help loosen muscles that have grown tight from sitting, and to address muscular imbalances caused by adaptations to sitting down. We can assist circulation, bringing fresh blood and nutrient flow into tissues that have grown stiff or painful. We can also support healthy metabolism, and help the body learn to be more comfortable being active.

Sitting down all day is not what our bodies are designed to do, and so it can contribute to a lot of health imbalances. Integrative health care uses acupuncture, bodywork, counseling, nutrition, and somatics to help correct these imbalances, reactivate the systems of the body, and create health.

Bodies can be complicated, and it can be hard to find the right path to treat subtle, chronic, or frustrating health issues. Coming to see an integrative doctor can help connect the dots and coordinate your care moving forward, both with your other physicians and with your integrative therapists.

Medical Consults with Dr. Gurjeet Birdee give you that opportunity. Dr. Birdee is a physician scientist who has spent over a decade researching the effectiveness of integrative care. He has a deep expertise in the evidence behind the treatments we offer at Ha.Lé, and is able to best direct patients in their integrative care.

Our understanding of the body is always improving. There is a constant stream of new information being published, helping to deepen our understanding of the body and its mechanisms. However, conventional healthcare is often not up to date, and it can sometimes take decades for proven information to make it into widespread consideration.

This is one reason why many proven integrative care modalities are not yet recognized or included in conventional care. It is not because they have not been studied, or were shown not to help. It is because conventional healthcare is sometimes very slow to incorporate new insight into the body.

Because Dr. Birdee has done the research, he understands how best to incorporate integrative care into your overall treatment plan. He will direct you with specific timelines and expectations, and will communicate with your other physicians about your care. Integrative care offers effective treatment for a wide variety of health issues, and Medical Consults now make them easier to access more effectively.