Tensegrity

In John F Barnes’ (internationally recognized physical therapist, lecturer, author, and a leading authority on Myofascial Release) book Myofascial Release: The Search for Excellence the concept of Tensegrity is introduced early on to help describe the fascial system. He states: 

“What is really happening in our bodies can be best explained by the term tensegrity, coined by the architectural genius Buckminster Fuller, as interpreted by Deane Juhan. Juhan noted that the vertical position of the skeleton is dependent on tensional forces generated by the fascia, the tone and contractibility of the muscular components, and the hydrostatic pressure exerted by fascial compartments. The osseous structures act as rigid beams whose position and motion are determined by the guy wires (myofascial elements) attached to them. The integrity of a tensegrity unit depends on the tensional force of these guy wires, not on the compressional strength of the rigid beams. It is the relationship among the fascia, muscles, and osseous structures that constitutes the tensegrity units of the body…. From this viewpoint, one can readily appreciate how crucial it is for the fascial “cables” to be of the proper length throughout the system. An abnormally tight cable in the lumbar area will negatively affect the entire balance of the spine and cranium…”

This is one statement of many relevant points I could mention however the above stated was enough material to write a short blog on it (and maybe 2 – 3 more!)… so here goes…

First off, let’s define Tensegrity: Equal Forces of distraction and compression creating three dimensional balance. And, a quote from Buckminster Fuller: “All structures, properly understood, from the solar system to the atom, are tensegrity structures. The Universe is omnitensional integrity.”

Essentially, what Fuller is saying is that our bodies are a structure, of the many structures in the Universe, comprised of equal forces of compression (the act of pressing upon or together) and distraction (A force applied to a body part to separate bony fragments or joint surfaces). What Barnes is saying is that if the above stated is true then it is of great importance to have a fascial (connective tissue / “guy wire”) system that is well balanced and at optimal lengths. What myofascial release techniques provide is specifically this: a releasing of fascial restrictions; in other words a maintenance of the “guy wire” system within the entire tensegrity structure = our body!

Another key aspect of the above stated is when Barnes gives the example of a “cable” being abnormally tight in one region of the body — how that can negatively impact a different part of the body. I know this concept is not necessarily new, however when thinking about the body as a tensegrity structure it is all the more affirming that symptoms are in fact signals: the cause is likely elsewhere. When we experience a painful sensation in one region of the body, it is very likely that a “guy wire” is abnormally tight in another area – and that is where the attention is needed. The place that is actually “tight”, and therefore pulling on the whole structure – causing pain elsewhere, needs to be released in order to create harmony within the entire tensegrity structure.

The JF Barnes myofascial release techniques that I utilize, within a comprehensive therapeutic program, for clients help delicately balance the tensegrity structure that is our physical body; and over time provide pain relief and improved mobility.

I would love to support you… if you are experiencing physical pain and/or movement imbalances, please reach out! To find out more and sign up for a Wild Radiance custom therapeutic program please visit: wildradiance.net Custom Therapeutic Programs tab.

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