How trauma may become stored in the body

One theory for how trauma may be stored in the body is based on the 1st Law of Thermodynamics - the law of the conservation of energy. In a traumatic impact the energy of the impact is converted to the body tissues as deformation (e.g. contussions, fractures) or heat. Since there is never a reduction in energy, residual energy not used up in deformation or heat may be stored in elastic tissues as potential energy. These tissues may not regain their pretrauma mechanical charateristics. “Thus, certain body areas challenged by one or more traumas can retain some quantity of energy of traumatic origin.”

(Barral, J. & Crosier, A. (1999). Trauma: An Osteopathic Approach. Eastland Press: Seattle. Pg. 22.)

Ida Rolf extends this idea from the physical to include the psychological aspect of an individual in her essay STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION Gravity, an Unexplored Factor in a More Human Use of Human Beings

A relatively simple accident that nevertheless leaves the body malaligned and out of balance can effect the psychological sense of the individual. He feels his body to be inadequate and therefore he projects the picture of inadequacy. Such deviations mean a change in the energy field, in the physical as well as the psychological man. In terms of an accident this may be temporary or it may well be permanent.

Dr. Rolf continues with a description of how an unhealed trauma can have lasting affects on an individual.

If the damage has not been too great, as healing progresses the structures involved are able to resume their original positions. "Damage" in this sense does not necessarily mean broken bones. Generally, it implies relatively slight displacement of a bone due to the impact of the blow. Then as the swelling and contusion subside the structures may be left in a position that is not quite normal. This constitutes a "scarring", a fairly irreversible change which may or may not be visible. The extent of the displacement of both bone and muscle structure determines the amount of interference with the normal movement of the part. A slightly different pattern results and if in addition a change of weight bearing is involved in this alignment, the structure will be rebalanced by compensatory changes at points quite distant in the body. In terms of actual flesh and blood, such changes consist of a thickening of tissues already there, or the formation of fibrils of connective tissue which prevent free movement within the area.