The Evolution of Wellness

The Evolution of Wellness Jan10th 2021

If you’re anything like us here at NY Physical Therapy & Wellness, then you might find yourself pondering some pretty odd questions at times when it comes to health and wellness. Have you ever wondered when people started to care about their health? We certainly have!

Wellness is a modern term with ancient origins. According to Global Wellness Institute,  “wellness can also be traced to the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome and Asia, whose historical traditions have indelibly influenced the modern wellness movement.”

The meaning of wellness has been evolving for centuries and gaining importance since the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s through the writings and teachings of philosophers and doctors in the United States. One thing rings true though, no matter what kind of wellness practices you’re looking at: the goal is to achieve pain-relief and prevent future health problems by creating balance in your lifestyle and habits.

To provide a little bit of insight into the history of wellness, NY Physical Therapy & Wellness has included in this blog a variety of information on traditions, medicines, statistics, and more throughout the ages. We hope you learn something new!

Ayurvedic Wellness

The word “Ayurveda” may sound like a mouthful, but it is actually a holistic system that dates back thousands of years to India. It was created to establish and maintain stability and harmony between a person’s body, mind, and spirit. 

There are three types, or “energies” of Ayurvedic wellness: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each one governs specific structures and functions of the body. 

Similar to how a physical therapy treatment plan is curated specifically for a person’s pain symptoms and condition, Ayurvedic regimens are tailored to each person’s dietary and exercise needs, and also involve practicing yoga and meditation. 

The ultimate focus is to maintain great overall health to prevent future illnesses, kind of like how a successful physical therapy treatment can help you learn how to prevent reinjuries!

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Many modern Western medical approaches are influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. 

Again, just like Ayurveda, TCM’s goal is to improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing by providing balance through holistic methods, including some you may have even heard of, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine.

Health and Wellness in Ancient Greece

We’ve all heard of Hippocrates, right? He’s considered the first doctor that focused primarily on preventing illness instead of treating it. He also believed that illness occurs as a direct result of a person’s nutritional habits, lifestyle choices, and environments. 

An abstract from NCBI states that “the three main categories [to maintain a healthy body and healthy lifestyle] were observed in the Hippocratic provision of care: health promotion, interventions on trauma care, and mental care and art therapy interventions. Health promotion included physical activity as an essential part of physical and mental health, and emphasized the importance of nutrition to improve performance in the Olympic Games.”

You know we’re going to bring all of these points back to physical therapy, so this might remind you of physical therapy and all the benefits being active and getting regular exercise can offer, even if you’re not in Greece training for the Olympics!

Physical Therapy in the 1900’s

You might be wondering, “Where does physical therapy come into play? When was it introduced into the realm of wellness and maintaining health?” Well, we’ll tell you!

Physical therapy existed long before the 1900’s, however, modern physical therapy began to gain traction in the wellness community during the 19th century when the polio epidemic hit.

The Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences makes an interesting point about physical therapy and how its practices were heavily utilized during the polio epidemic:

“It was in this period that young women began treating polio patients with residual paralysis by using passive movements. Realizing the need of the hour, PTs developed Manual Muscle Testing for assessing the strength of the muscle and thereby implementing muscle re-education techniques for weaker muscles.” 

Physical therapy was also a commonly used treatment technique for those injured during World War I and II, as the attention of physical therapists was necessary for “wounded soldiers who returned home with amputations, burns, cold injuries, wounds, fractures, and nerve and spinal cord injuries.”

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the need for physical therapy for wellness is still going strong.  Physical therapists consider movement to be an essential part of maintaining optimal physical health and well-being, which all depends on the body being able to function properly at multiple levels.

Taking an interest in your wellness?

Now that we’ve stuffed your brain full of information about the evolution of wellness over the past few centuries, we hope that you’ll take an interest in your own! 

It doesn’t matter if you have an injury, an outstanding health condition, or just want to get the state of your health assessed once and for all. NY Physical Therapy & Wellness combines multiple aspects of movement and wellness to provide our patients with the best possible health regimen for them. Call us today to make an appointment!


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