Healthy Men: What’s the point?

As a human being and a male, I am given from time to time to consider various eternal questions. Why are we here? What is the point of existence? Which Stoke Newington Church street establishment has the best coffee and cake? Etcetera etcetera.





All of the above are potentially vexing avenues of enquiry. In reference to the last, I personally go to The Spence. The coffee is not quite as good as I have experienced in New York but the pastries and cakes are bloody marvellous and the staff are nice. Check out the pain au chocolat or the white chocolate cheesecake if you are passing.


What is the point of existence? That’s an easier one. We are here to maximise our expression of life. In other words to do our best to enjoy using, and scooting about in, this amazing piece of kit that evolution has put together for us. Whensh_health surfer I say using please don’t think I just mean “eating, excreting and watching TV,” as the line goes. I am talking about applying our brains and bodies to producing poetry, calligraphy, or athletic and academic prowess. To helping humanity on its spiritual path. To having a laugh. To regularly experiencing the peaks of physical and emotional ecstasy. I could go on but I think that covers a fair bit.


Why are we here, specifically why are we here as the male of the species, well that’s a much harder one.

Ruminating on this, a story comes to mind told by a farmer who was a patient of mine. He was describing some of the processes involved in the breeding of sheep. When on the job, each stud ram was expected to fertilise fifty ewes a day or a hundred in a night. He said that serious exhaustion and a dangerous collapse was a significant health risk for these hard working animals. Somehow I am not surprised.

If we are only considering humans as biological machines to make more humans, the disparity between the sexes’ roles is stark. I am in awe of what it takes in a woman’s body to conceive, gestate, birth, and nurse a child. Surely evolution has screwed up in our relative numbers of male to female. Maybe not one to a hundred like the poor old ram, but one to ten would seem sensible. What is the point of all of us blokes hanging around for crying out loud? I’m joking!!

We [blokes] are one of two complementary halves of a species that need each other absolutely. We [people] can all make ourselves equally useful whether we have an innie or an outie down below. Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. So let’s have a look at a few ways to specifically look after men better. We need them healthy and happy.

sh_health rugby

One of the disadvantages of having all that testosterone sloshing about is that men tend to bash themselves about relatively more doing risky things. I am absolutely not advocating an uber health&safety policy. Constantly sitting on one’s spotty behind is ultimately far, far more dangerous than taking a few knocks doing something fun and active. However injuries do take a toll and need sorting out. This can go beyond waiting for bruises to disappear.

As an Osteopath I am frequently called upon to help. I’d like to share some perspectives on this.

Whilst working in Hereford a few years ago I was inundated with men in their forties and fifties who were old rugby and/or army warriors.

They often presented with quite generalised aches and pains, also injuries that would recur such as knees and ankles. All this would have been getting worse for years. They would be a bit plump and out of shape and sometimes quite miserable.

The feeling was often that their pomp and glory days of being physically fit, strong and capable were behind them. The stereotype of a rugby player “gone to seed” fits this description.

As I went through their case histories, similar things would emerge. They would have picked up all kinds of injuries in their twenties when they were fit as a butcher’s dog and felt immortal. These would be concussions, falls, neck injuries, blows to the base of the spine and so on. At the time they would have hurt for a week or two then apparently recovered fully. Treating them showed this to be clearly not the case.



Essentially the body does its best to compensate and adapt. In practice this means that specific issues become more diffuse and generalised over time. The original injuries become sub symptomatic but there is a more systemic negative effect. Osteopathy, and especially cranial osteopathy is very good at spotting and releasing strains and force vectors from old injuries. I would often detect very specific events that the patient would only remember when prompted with my information.

When things went well, over several sessions it became like peeling an onion. There would often be quite strong fatigue and soreness reactions after each treatment. However it was a great joy for me to peel away layer after layer and to see a fitter, happier, younger looking chap emerge.


Your average Stokey male may not often fit this description. The evolutionary bodge we walk around in and look out from is optimised for negotiating the African Savanna. The trees got further apart and we couldn’t swing between them so we did the dodgiest bodge of all: standing on two legs. This equipment is not designed for sitting staring at a screen all day, or for digesting the stress of dealing with a poisonous colleague in the office.


sh_health man on a hillMy work cannot fully deflect the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. However it can sometimes make the body less trigger-happy in its negative responses such as sleeplessness, headaches or digestive issues. Osteopaths are always trying to find the health in the tissues. Believe me, it is always there as long as we are still breathing. Sometimes pretty well buried, but it is there.

Believe also this: we are every one of us evolutionarily hard wired to head towards health and happiness, and to enjoy the process. Osteopaths call it Homeostasis. If we were not we would be completely screwed. More than that, we wouldn’t still be here as we would not have made the requisite strenuous efforts involved in our species’ survival.


I hope this has shed some light on one Osteopathic perspective. If it rings any bells I am happy to try and help.


Chris Harris   Osteopath