What is it that allows our bodies to bend, spring, and return to normal? Why is it that some aches can be felt across the body?
Now that we have a good idea of what the fascial network in the body it leads us to the next burgeoning concept in how we view the body, that is tensegrity. A combination of the words tension and integrity this premise forms the basic idea of what I am about to explain.
In a nutshell tensegrity structures use cables of tension to keep the integrity of rigid components to form a structure. The traditional view of the body is much like that of a building. Bones, stacked upon one another, give structure and housing to our organs while muscles are draped over. This is a structure based off of compression and does not have much resiliency or efficiency. Tensegrity structures suspend these rigid structures and allow for much more resiliency. They can bend and deform but still return to its original form because of the already tensioned cables establishing the shape. If a structure does bend it isn’t isolated to one area but the force is
distributed throughout the whole.
If we take this concept and apply it to the human body, it presents a convincing argument. The rigid structures in our bodies-bones-do not hold themselves together nor are they truly connected to one another. Cartilage allows the to move alongside one another without degradation. Ligaments connects them together along with joint capsules. Muscles connect to tendons which grant the bones movement and all this in enveloped in fascia to tension the entire network and allow for feedback, communication, and stability.
Now we know that if one part of a tensegrity structure is compressed or restricted that it is reflected through the structure. This gives further credence to how we interpret restriction and pain in the body. If you’ve ever had an odd sensation or pain that seemed to change from place to place there is a good chance that it is restrictions in one location being reflected by other areas-the weak link in the chain. Many times what we might think is our knee causing our pain is actually a problem in our hip, foot, or something further from where the pain is being felt.
While this model can express problems on a larger scale it also utilizes this global tensional integrity to its advantage. When we move the force is transferred through large chains of myo-fascia. A single step reverberates through the entire body to distribute the impact the foot takes, transmits the force from the muscles and fascia for movement to occur, and to stabilize against gravity so we do not just collapse on a single leg.
If we look at the body strictly based off of things being stacked upon one another, it makes little sense how it stays together, let alone is capable of moving, bending, and working against gravity. Now thinking of the skeleton, proverbially suspended in a net of tensioned wires that allow it to perform and be malleable is an idea that makes a lot of sense given the near infinite capabilities of what our bodies are able to do.