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Fig. 1.59 The rest of the body in a simple tensegrity rendition.
This structure is resilient and responsive, like a real human, but is
of course static compared to our coordinated myofascial
responses. The position of the wooden struts (bones) is dependent
on the balance of the elastics (myofasciae) and the surrounding
superficial fascial 'membrane'. The feet, knees, and pelvis of this
model have very lifelike responses to pressure. If we could
integrate the spine pictured in Figure 1.58 and a more complex
cranial structure, we would be approaching human structure.
(Photo and concept courtesy of Tom Flemons, www.
Fig. 1.60 Who more than Fred Astaire embodies the lightness and
easy response suggested by the tensegrity model of human
functioning? While the rest of us slog around as best we can trying
to keep our spines from compressing like stacks of bricks, his
bones eternally float with a poise rarely seen elsewhere.
will float within the fascia in resilient equipoise, such as
is seen at nearly all times in the incomparable Fred
Astaire (Fig. 1.60).
In this concept, the bones are seen as 'spacers' pushing
out into the soft tissue, and the tone of the tensile myo-
fascia becomes the determinant of balanced structure
(Fig. 1.59). Compression members keep a structure from
collapsing in on itself; tensional members keep the com-
pression struts relating to each other in specific ways. In
other words, if you wish to change the relationships
among the bones, change the tensional balance through
the soft tissue, and the bones will rearrange themselves.
This metaphor speaks to the strength of sequentially
applied soft-tissue manipulation, and implies an inher-
ent weakness of short-term repetitive high-velocity
thrust manipulations aimed at bones. A tensegrity model
of the body - unavailable at the time of their pioneering
work - is closer to the original vision of both Dr Andrew
Taylor Still and Dr Ida Rolf. 94 ' 9 5
In this tensegrity vision, the Anatomy Trains myofas-
cial meridians described in this topic are frequent
(though by no means exclusive) continual bands along
which this tensile strain runs through the outer myofas-
ciae from bone to bone. Muscle attachments ('stations'
in our terminology) are where the continuous tensile net
attaches to the relatively isolated, outwardly-pushing
compressive struts. The continuous meridians one sees
in dissection photos throughout this topic result, essen-
tially, from turning the scalpel on its side to separate
these stations from the bone underneath, while retain-
ing the connection through the fabric from one 'muscle'
to another. Our work seeks balanced tone along these
tensile lines and sheets so that the bones and muscles
A spectrum of tension-
dependent structures
Some writers do not agree with this macrotensegrity
idea at all, seeing it as a spurious modeling of human
structure and movement. 9 6 Others, notably orthopedist
Stephen Levin, MD, who has pioneered the idea of 'bio-
tensegrity' for over 30 years { , see
the body as entirely constructed via different scale levels
of tensegrity systems hierarchically nested within each
other. 97 " 9 9 Levin asserts that bony surfaces within a joint
cannot be completely pushed together, even with active
pushing during arthroscopic surgery, though others cite
research to show that the weight is indeed passed
through the knee via the harder tissues of bone and
cartilage. 100 - 10 1
Further research is required to quantify the constitu-
ent tensional and compressional forces around a joint or
around the system as a whole, to see if it can be analyzed
in a manner consistent with tensegrity engineering.
Clearly, the traditional notions of inclined planes and
levers needs, at minimum, an update - if not a total
overhaul - in light of the increasing evidence for 'float-
ing compression' as a universal construction principle.
In our view, allowances must be made in this vision
of tensegrity for the reality of the body in motion. The
body runs the gamut, in different individuals, in differ-
ent parts of the body, and in different movements in
various situations, from the security of a continuous
compression structure to the sensitive poise of pure,
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