Fitness: The Forgotten Component of Complementary Medicine

eJournal > Fitness: The Forgotten Component of Complementary Medicine

by Glenn Streeter, ATC, CES, AFP

Wellness – Professional Healthcare – CLICK for COMPONENT DESCRIPTIONS

William was diagnosed six months ago with an inoperable lumbar tumor, and had blood work problems and liver challenges. Eschewing the recommended chemotherapy and radiation treatments for five months of consistent exercise, nutrition, bodywork and cleansing, his tumor is now one-third its original size, and his blood work is nearly within normal limits in every category! He is an inspiration and example of taking charge of one’s health, choosing one’s own healing path.

I share this story to illustrate the possibilities for using complementary forms of medicine with positive outcomes. The rapid growth of complementary wellness in the last five years is a vivid example of the desire for educated consumers to choose the most efficacious path for their healing journey.

With the myriad choices available, it can be a daunting task to educate oneself on every modality from Acupuncture to Homeopathy to Naturopathy! These modalities are examples of powerful tools in the healing process, along with hundreds of others.1 However, these are mainly passive processes where the patient is reliant on the practitioner.

What is missing in most programs is the active component: movement patterns that are utilized to create dramatic systemic and cardiovascular changes. This reduces or eliminates sensory motor amnesia,2 a universal challenge to all of us whereby we lose the ability to contract our muscles when we want to or need to. This amnesia is a major contributor to back and other orthopedic problems, fat gain, inability to process toxins, and all sedentary diseases.

The logical, desirable net result of any relationship with a practitioner is an increase in function! The passive modalities are optimally utilized when they are a component of the healing process, not the end. We optimize our care when we visit practitioners skilled in the passive modes, then visit a qualified fitness professional to improve our strength, endurance and functionality through the appropriate movement patterns.

Examples of the most common movement patterns, compared to the major passive complementary modalities:


  • Bodywork (facilitated stretching and PNF3)
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Aquatics
  • Weighted resistance
  • Rhythmic cardiovascular activity
  • Explosive training (pliometrics)
  • Sports participation

  • Bodywork (certain forms)
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Naturopathy
  • Herbology
  • Osteopathy
  • Aroma-therapy
  • Homeopathy

I do not mean to discount the passive modalities in any way, but they usually have a specific symptom indication. However exercise, appropriately prescribed, is valuable for everyone.

While many conventional and complementary practitioners argue over the best modality for a given symptom or the particular scientific method used to arrive at a conclusion, let’s not lose sight of the glorious simplicity and medical value of just moving. In addition to positive physiological changes, are improved immune function, insulin sensitivity, caloric expenditure, mood, well being and sleep patterns.

In conclusion, the conscious and subconscious ability to contract any muscle fiber in the body, at any given instant, is the definition of optimum function. This ability may be compromised by injury, surgery or a sedentary lifestyle. To counteract what we call sensory motor amnesia,2 employ qualified, degreed, certified, nationally-accredited fitness professionals (such as at who will:

  • Begin with a fitness, nutrition and structural assessment
  • Understand the medical implications of injuries and rehabilitation,
  • Cultivate a relationship with other practitioners
  • Operate on the treatment team within his or her scope of practice.

Glenn Streeter, ATC, CES, AFP, is a leading Medical Fitness Professional in the Denver area. He has met the highest standards in the fitness community by becoming accredited by the National Fitness Therapy Association (NFTA). For sincere and compassionate care, contact Glenn at Medical Fitness Services, (303)528-6729, or his

1Let us know your story of how Complementary modalities have helped you.
2Somatics, by Thomas Hanna.
3PNF is Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation