These three systems are profoundly interconnected. You can’t make a change in one without affecting the other two. This amazing interaction lets us do exceptional, beautiful things such as ballet or running 100m in less than 10 seconds.
But things can go wrong…
If you strain a joint in your back (the skeletal system) by lifting something incorrectly or sitting in a poor position, then the muscles associated with your back (the myofascial system) will try to compensate, then they become overactive and inflamed. This irritates the nerves (the neural system) connected to and running near the joint and muscles, making them sensitive. These nerves then send the muscles into a holding spasm – and over time this can stiffen the joint and cause more strain.
If you slouch forwards at your computer for long periods, you will strain the joints in your upper back and neck (the skeletal system). This makes the muscles at the back of your neck short and tight (the myofascial system) – but at the front of your neck the muscles will be long and weak. This is called muscle imbalance. The strain on your joints and tight muscles irritates the nearby nerves (the neural system) and reduces their mobility, which you feel as pain and sensitivity. Your myofascial system tries to adapt, sending muscles into spasm. You get pain and stiffness first in your neck then your shoulders and arms. It’s a vicious cycle.
A good physio assesses, diagnoses and changes how your three systems are interacting.
They understand these interactions thoroughly and know that simply treating the symptoms rarely works in the long term.