What is Tensegrity Medicine?
Hopefully you read the "What is fascia?" tab. If not I highly suggest you do so now. :)
“Fascia is the organ of posture. The body is a web of fascia. A spiderweb is in a plane. This web is in a sphere. We can trace the lines of that web to get an understanding of how what we see in a body works.”
Ida P. Rolf, PhD
Fascia is a 3D connective tissue network penetrating and surrounding our muscles, organs, joints, nerves, and vessels. It has receptors embedded it in that allows it to communicate with itself and the nervous system and allows the body to operate in an integrated manner.
Tensegrity comes from the terms "tension" and "integrity." Biotensegrity refers to the tension and integrity of biological tissues and it explains how flowers and trees can survive in windy conditions.
Tensegrity Medicine is a different way of assessing and treating the body. For instance, you may have heard of biomechanics, which essentially suggests our bones are like I-beams and our muscles/tendons and bones are like lever and pulley systems. One issue with this philosophy is that our living, biological tissues do not have the same properties of solid objects, thus our living tissues do not function the same as a biomechanical model.
Rather, our living, biological fascia most closely replicates Tensegrity engineering models that are as sturdy as they are flexible and it applies soft matter physics to our "soft" bodies. Our fascia has incredible tensile strength and holds its shape therefore it can distribute strain around the entire structure. That makes our bones discontinuous and compression bearing or floating in the fascia. (Every bone is a sesamoid bone.) Essentially, our 3D form is created with tension and compression. If we have increased tension in one area, it increases tension/restriction in another area or throughout, which results in injury, disease, or dysfunction since fascia's network goes down to the cellular level.
Normally humans are very adaptable and resilient, but when tissues experience unnatural tension, it will lead to compensatory patterns or inefficient movement. When these compensatory strategies run out of options, isolated body parts can become inflamed, painful, or physically deteriorated. Often times the site of pain or dysfunction is not the primary site of where the tension/compression is compromised. When inefficient tensional patterns are present due to repetitive movement, injury/trauma, scars, or emotional holding patterns, the whole system may become disorganized, dysfunctional, or diseased.
It is with this in mind and all the properties of fascia that we can address tension in the body in various ways - manual, integrative, and osteopathic therapy.
What does this mean for you?
Tensegrity Medicine is a different way of looking at the body and how it functions based on new research about fascia. For example, some individuals have been told their only option is surgery or to "deal" with it. More than likely their fascia has not been explored to determine where the area of restriction/s is/are which put increased tension in other areas. If someone has a tendinitis diagnosis in their hand/wrist, perhaps the fascial restriction is in the shoulder or opposite hip, which doesn't allow proper function of hand/wrist. We are one big piece of connective tissue. Likewise, if someone has "wore out" the bone (ie. arthritis, degenerative changes), it maybe that there is a fascial restriction causing dysfunctional tension and compression patterns which lead to bones compressing each other over long periods of time. Many times individuals will try cupping or foam rolling or other fascial instruments to address tension they perceive, which is wonderful that they perceive the tension, but perhaps the area being treated is not the area of greatest restriction.
The other aspect of Tensegrity Medicine is that fascia is a sensory organ and has various receptors in it. If the right technique (pressure and direction) and dose (duration and input) is applied to the right location based on the individual at that particular moment in time, we can communicate with the body and brain to retrain movement patterns such that they are more effective and organized leading to decreased pain and increased function.
Here are some videos to check out:
This is a biotensegrity model and it represents our architecture in all scales of the body - molecular, tissue, organs. It is held together by tension and compression.
The tension and compression influences mechanical and chemical effects in our body, so shape dictates function.
If you have 12 minutes, please check out this video which will help explain these concepts.