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Tensegrity and its relation to our bodies

 When reading about tensegrity, I realized that restoring a dynamic structure (the human body) is the basis of my work.  The struts on the structure may bend, misalign or otherwise be tampered with causing a structural deficit.  In the body this structural breach can be physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.  Buckmeister Fuller defined tensegrity as a structural system composed of discontinuous compression elements connected by continuous tension cables, which forms a stable structure that can interact in dynamic fashion(1). 

 During patient education periods, I use a babies toy which uses dowels and rubber bands in a polysided shape.  You can twist the structural part of the toy into all kinds of shapes which would signify an injury.  As you unwind the dowels from themselves you return to the original shape…which is tensegrity at its most simple state.

So how do we connect this thought of tensegrity to proportionality and mid-tide dynamics? 

If you are looking at posture, the muscles, tendons and ligaments are the guy-wires off the skeletal structure.  If you are looking at the cranial sacral system the dura is the guy wire and the brain and spinal cord are the interior structures and the skull and spine are the external structures. 

The compression and decompression forces are equal and stable.   Wolffs Law is important when speaking of stresses in a system.  The compression forces from the inside must align themselves up to withstand the forces from the outside.  If you are looking at the body cavity, the forces of the lungs equalize with the forces of the diaphragm, ribs, with the muscles, tissue and skin.  They also align them selves with the forces from the organs in the abdomen and the outside world.

The flexion/extension and internal/external rotation movements that the craniosacral system and the organs and the body move through are orchestrated around a dance of letting pressure off and putting pressure on the system. 

The movements are gross and at the cellular level.  Sutherland called the fluid movement Primary respiration(2).  Hooking into the Primary respiration leads to tissue respiration and finally release of tissue restrictions.  In this way, tensegrity is re-established and the structure becomes more stable.

In a different way, if the compression in one area becomes greater than the normal, the same thing will happen in another maybe even a remote area.  The structure has to continue to be equalized in order to survive as a structure. 

If we think of the fluids moving through an unencumbered system, the fluids will have a certain rhythm, a certain speed and a certain route.  In my opinion, if the body system becomes out of center and one area is pushing or pressing or out of balance with another, the tensegrity is disrupted and therefore the strength of the whole is weakened.  By holding space and distancing, or mobilizing we can assist the body in re-regulating the compression, allowing the fluids and anatomical structures to re-group.


1.  Donald E. Ingber, The Architecture of Life, Scientific American Magazine, January 1998 Buckminster Fuller, SYNERGETICS—Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, Volumes I & II, New York, Macmillan Publishing Co, 1975, 1979 Seeking the Gift Tensegrity Dr. Timothy Wilken TrustMark 2001

 2. http://www.osteodoc.com/sutherland.html



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