I often joke in the clinic about how us practitioners say, "It's all connected," when we want to give the short answer to describe specific details about why something is affecting something else in the body. It's an easy answer. Just saying, "It's all connected," answers the unknown in the most vague way possible. It completely makes sense and at the same time is pretty elusive. So what does it actually mean?
A dissection of the complete nervous system.
This is one of my favorite photos of the human body. Someone dissected the entire nervous system and kept it intact. Incredible! I can't imagine how long this took. I just think back to all the nerves I nicked in PT school during our dissection lab. I am in awe! Anyhow, notice that the nervous system is essentially all one unit. You can imagine that if one area is irritated, it is likely to effect somewhere else as well. An irritated nerve does not glide well through its surrounding tissues so instead, it may tug. Also realize that this is just the nervous system. With the nervous system, there are neighboring blood vessels and lymphatic tissue.
"Deep Front Line" as described by Thomas Meyers in Anatomy Trains.
Deep Front Line photo: https://basicmedicalkey.com/the-deep-front-line/
Thomas Meyers is pretty much a dissection God and through his work, described different "Anatomy Trains" that we have in our bodies. His book is fascinating. Each Anatomy Train is a continuous connection of fascia that he actually dissected and observed. He concluded that we have 12 myofascial Anatomy Trains in total. In this photo of the "Deep Front Line", you can see from the cranium, there is a myofascial connection all the way down to the feet. If an area of fascia is dehydrated or restricted, it will not glide with surrounding structures very well and may affect the other myofascial tissues in that specific train. We also have other fascial connections, such as from our viscera to our cervical and thoracic spine, to name one small example.
Another concept that is described with, "It's all connected," is movement strategy. Let's say you hurt your shoulder way back when. When your shoulder was hurt, your body learned how to move differently to either avoid the pain or to accomplish a task with as little discomfort as possible. You may use one leg differently or restrict the movement of your ribcage, for example. Even if the shoulder feels better, that altered movement strategy remains. In this example, we understand that there are neuromuscular connections between how one area of the body is used and how another area of the body reacts and vice versa.
So what does this mean for us? Firstly, move often and to keep your movements variable. Variable movements mean challenging your body to move in other planes outside of the one we live in the most: the sagittal plane. The sagittal plane is what we're moving in when we are walking, running, driving, on the computer, and anything else that goes from front to back of us. Notice how children are literally all over the place with their movements; climbing, rolling, jumping, hanging, etc. Channel your inner child. Some activities that are great for challenging us to move differently than the day-to-day are swimming, rock climbing, yoga, tai chi, dance, and martial arts. Even getting on the floor is a great daily practice. Secondly, work on your tissues. This can be done through massage and rolfing but also through self-massaging techniques such as the foam roller, massage balls, and theraguns. Lastly, go to practitioners that appreciate the forrest for the trees. No area of our body is an island. Not taking a "big picture" approach would be foolish, considering what we now know about the interconnectedness of the human body.