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vascular, and fibrous web that goes into making what
we have here termed 'Spatial Medicine': how the body
senses and adapts to changes of shape caused by inter-
nal or external forces.
Returning to our discussion of tensegrity, we intro-
duced the MFBs at this point because they show how
the body can alter the 'pre-stress' of the body's tenseg-
rity to stiffen it for greater loading. Because of the time
involved, there has to be an anticipation of further stress
and loading to put the contraction in place. Thus one is
tempted to question whether emotional stress can
induce similar loading and MFB response, creating a
generally 'stiffer' (literally), less sensitive (interstitial
sensory nerve endings would be rendered inert), and
less adaptable person biochemically.
Moving to the other end of the scale, this discussion
also leads us to how microtensegrity works to connect
the entire inner cell workings to the ECM of the fascial
net. It is not only MFBs that are capable of hooking up
to the ECM. On this microscopic level, the tensegrity
applications are more unambiguous, and have every
promise of revolutionizing our approach to medicine by
bringing to the fore the spatial and mechanical aspect as
a complement to the predominant biochemical view.
try within the cells, while manual and movement thera-
pists concentrate on what goes on between the cells.'
The cell has been viewed as 'a balloon filled with Jello®',
in which the organelles float, in the same way the cell
floats in the medium of the ECM.
This new research - and here we rely heavily on the
work of Dr Donald Ingber and his faculty at Children's
Hospital in Boston - has knocked any such separa-
tion into a cocked hat. It has been definitively shown
that there is a very structured and active 'musculo-
skeletal system' within the cell, called the cytoskeleton,
to which each organelle is attached, and along which
they move. 11 1 The cytoskeleton is slightly misnamed in
that it also contains actomyosin molecules that can con-
tract to exert force within the cell, on the cell membrane,
or - as we saw with the MFBs - through the membrane
to the matrix beyond, so it is really the cell's musculo-
skeletal or myofascial system. These mechanically active
connections - compressional microtubules, tensile
microfilaments, and interfibrillar elements - run between
the inner workings of nearly every cell and the ECM, a
mutually active relationship that forever puts to rest the
idea that independent cells float within a sea of 'dead'
connective tissue products (Fig. 1.68).
It has been known for some time that the 'double bag'
of the phospholipid cell membrane is studded with
globular proteins that offer receptor sites both within
and without the cell, to which many but highly particu-
lar chemicals could bind, changing the activity of the
cell in various ways (see Fig. 1.31). Candace Pert's
research summarized in the Molecules of Emotion, making
endorphins a household word, is one example of the
kinds of links in which the chemistry beyond the cell,
binding to these cross-membrane receptors, affects the
physiological workings within the cell. 11 2
Microtensegrity: how the cells balance
tension and compression
Up to this point, we have been discussing tensegrity on
the macroscopic level, as it relates to our Anatomy Trains
model. In discussing the MFBs, we saw how the internal
cell structure could hook to the macrostructure of the
ECM. This end of the tensegrity geometry argument has
recently been boosted with extensive research, now more
familiar under the name mechanobiology, with relevance
to myofascial work and manual intervention of all types.
Before we leave tensegrity for the main body of the topic,
we repair once again to the microscope. Here we find a
new set of connections with an unexpected glimpse into
the possible effect of manual work on cellular function,
even including genetic expression.
On the basis of this topic, one could be forgiven,
saving the last few paragraphs about MFBs, for thinking
that the cells 'float' independently within the ECM we
have been describing, and indeed that is how I myself
taught it for years. 'Medicine has done great things', I
would pontificate, 'by concentrating on the biochemis-
The newer discovery, and one even more relevant to our
work, is that in addition to these chemoreceptors, some
of the membrane-spanning globular proteins (a family
of chemicals known as integrins) are mechanoreceptors
which communicate tension and compression from the
cell's surroundings - specifically from the fiber matrix
- into the cell's interior, even down into the nucleus
(Fig. 1.69). So, in addition to chemoregulation, we may
now add the idea of mechanoregulation.
Fig. 1.68 Cytoskeletal fibers - like the
microfilaments, dynamic microtubules, and
smaller interfibrillar elements - connect the
nuclear center of each cell to the ECM
outside its borders, and constitute the
interplay of Spatial Medicine at the cellular
level. (Photo courtesy of Donald Ingber.)
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