The connective tissue is our body’s foundational tissue. As a baby we are all connective tissue that then specialises into brain, bone, muscle and organs etc. The Connective tissue also makes up a network of tissue that supports every part of the body from the tiniest cell to the largest organ or muscle. In the structural system of connective tissue it is like a fine, flexible and strong web that holds everything in place, keeping everything connected and providing nutrients to each part of the body.
Our bodies have a natural rhythmic flow of energy that pulses through our connective tissue – it supports the connective tissue to be fluid and flexible allowing us to move in a naturally gentle way. Gentleness is a natural quality we all have, unfortunately most of us don’t move or do things from that quality. When we move in a hard or driven way, or push ourselves physically when our body is telling us to slow down or stop, our connective tissue thickens and becomes hard and stiff.
Stiffness is not an age-determined thing – it is the body responding to how we treat it and how we move in it.
If we were to tear or injure our connective tissue when we are older, it does take more time to heal than when we are young, but what determines its full healing is how we treat the injured part and our body as it is healing. If we are more gentle with how we move, and rest when we need to and gradually return to full daily activities, then our connective tissue can heal and become fluid again. If we push the body too hard and too soon in the healing phase, the connective tissue lays down thickened fibres as it repairs and there is a remaining stiffness in the injured tissue. We are never too old to heal our connective tissue or transform it from stiff thickened tissue to more fluid flexible tissue.
No matter how old we are our connective tissue remolds and rejuvenates itself every few months.
Moving gently in a smooth rhythmical way is what allows the connective tissue to be fluid and flexible. To move gently comes from reconnecting to that natural gentleness that is inside us all. Being more aware of where your feet are as you walk, or feeling your fingers as you gently open and close doors are the more practical examples of moving gently. As we age we do tend to slow down the intensity with which we do things – so it is not a big leap to move gently from there.
Moving gently as you exercise allows your connective tissue to remain fluid and flexible and supports your muscles and joints to move and work in a balanced way. When I exercise I focus on how the movement feels and I appreciate the smooth gliding nature of the movement – for instance the curve in my hips and torso as I walk or the way my body glides through the water as I swim.
Moving gently is so nourishing for our bodies that when we do that our connective tissue softens any hard areas and becomes more fluid – it’s like giving our bodies a grease and oil change, something our older bodies really appreciate and need.
Kate G., Australia. Physiotherapist