The Human Body as a Tensegrity Structure
Everyone has heard of “muscles,” but it is surprising how many people have never heard the term “fascia” before. Fascia is an extremely important functional aspect of the structure of our bodies, comprised of connective tissue that surrounds organs and muscles. Much like a body stocking, deep and superficial fascia literally connect our tissues, organs and muscles together in an interwoven pattern. There are different “lines” of fascia, for example the superficial back line which connects the eyeballs to the bottoms of our feet.
Fascia is a tensegrity structure, meaning that if you affect one area the entire fascial line will react. The term “tensegrity” was coined by Buckminster Fuller, which referred to the bones acting as holes (spacers) for that are kept together by the soft tissue. Tensegrity means “tension integrity.” The faxcia of the body (the stocking-like connective tissue that surrounds our muscles and bones) is continuous. So, in return, the entire line of fascia can be effected by working on any area of the fascial “line.” For example, if you affect the fascia (through myofascial release techniques) on top of the head, (because that fascia is a part of the superficial back line), then the fascia on the bottoms of the feet will also be affected. Thus if someone comes in with an ankle problem, the cause of the restriction may actually be coming from somewhere else. Many people with low back pain also experience headaches, an those with pronate feet can have a variety of issues in the knees and hips.
At Madsen Massage, we focus on the entire body being connected by a beautifully woven, perfect tensegrity structure. Interestingly, many of the fascial “lines” correspond to meridians in traditional Chinese medicine. If you are interested in learning more about fascia, check out Tom Meyers, who is the author of Anatomy Trains, which includes a book and video series.