Tensegrity – understanding body movement

When I was doing my training in the Bowen Technique, tensegrity was often discussed. I  bought one of these baby’s toys to help me understand it.

tensegrity baby

The principles of the tensegrity model are just simple tension and compression. Imagine this as a model which is self organizing, hierarchical and self stabilising.  Apply this principle to the body, think of the rigid connections as our bones,  visualise the dance as the body moves through a day. As one muscle contracts or is under tension, the rest of body adapts.

When it cannot regulate to the “normal” healthy position, or homeostasis, the body will adjust in order to function. This is when function affects structure.  If, in order to walk with our eyes level, which we are predisposed to do, our body may need to adopt a different posture which in turn may affect our structure over time.  Without intervention the hierarchical  layers of our body become asymmetrical and often lead to pain, somewhere. Hurt ankle affects opposite knee, affects hip, affects shoulder, affects neck, affects head. Get the picture?  Ida Rolf said it better  “Where you think it is, it ain’t.”

Tom Myers, Anatomy Trains developed a model of the hips, a classic example of using tensegrity to explain “the unique motions of the pelvis, sacrum, and hips in walking.”   When the connecting tissue around the bones stops moving fluidly, we often experience pain.

tom myers tensegrity model image

Techniques like Emmett or Bowen can soften the tissue so fluidity can be restored. This 2 minute video explains more.