As I’ve said in earlier posts, bones and muscle are not responsible for holding our structure and shape. For convenience’s sake, it is easier to perceive ideas in an easier, digestible manner so we can assert some order and logic in the world around us. The simpler and more inaccurate way to look at the human body is to compare it to the architecture of buildings. The framework of buildings is composed of steel beams welded and bolted together. This framework is also named the ‘skeleton’ of a building.
Alluding to human skeleton models you see in physician’s offices, all the bones of the skeleton are kept together by bolts and wires. If it weren’t for these bolts and wires, the skeleton would fall into a pile of bones. Taking a closer look, what holds the bones in place is connective tissue, which provides proper spacing between every joint.
Ida Rolf asserted this observation that bones are spacers, maintaining the appropriate distance between various body parts, and to ensure this spacing is not compromised within our bodies. For instance, your femur maintains a constant distance between your hip bone and your lower legs bones. Without your femur, your tibia and fibula might touch your hip and its function within the human structure is blurred. An octopus tentacle has this jointless capability but its function is appropriate to its fluid, marine environment. Our joints are specifically located as an adaptation to our environment as upright and mobile human beings on land. These joints are filled with liquid between two bones fastened by straps known as ligaments. The space allows the bones to move, the ligaments define the range of motion of the bones, and the bones are geographic landmarks of the human structure and characterize the nature of the movement itself.
The concept of bones acting as spacers kept together by soft tissue was created by Buckminster Fuller, and coined this model asa tensegrity structure. The word tensegrity is a contraction of ‘tensional integrity.’ Until Fuller came along, the architecture of structures built by humans were known to be compressional by nature. Houses were known to be built by compressional elements — the hard pieces were bolstered by being in contact with each other, with force pressing them together that allows the entire structure to remain intact. The ceiling compresses against the resistance of the walls, then the whole of the house presses down on its foundation, and its foundation presses onto the ground to have the whole structure stand.
In contrast, a tensegrity structure is based on the premise that the integrity and continuity of a structure is due to its tensional elements: Strings, wires, and other sorts of lines connect with each other and sustain continual tension by the hard pieces of the structure — its compressional elements, which do not touch each other. “They act as spacers, sustaining the proper degree of tension in the structure as a whole by keeping the compressional elements at the proper distances from each other” (Heller, Bodywise, p 50).
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Fuller provided a beautiful description to view the human structure as a tensegritous one. The muscles, skin, and especially the connective tissues are the tensional elements separated by the body’s hard compressional elements, the bones, which act as the spacers that sustain their tension. It distributes stress evenly throughout the entire structure rather than allowing it to accumulate at certain points, and also allows more stability and flexibility, as opposed to a compressional structure. When misalignment in the body occurs, a tensegrity structure can disintegrate into a compressional structure, in which we commonly call the ‘aging process’.
Picture a kite and how the kite material gets its shape and structure from the rods. We can make the analogy that the cloth of the kite is connective tissue, or the tensional element, and the rods are the compressional elements maintaining the tension of the cloth and supporting the entire structure of the kite. The rods are the spacers delineating or outlining the shape of the kite.
To foster and create tensegrity in a structure, the alignment of the structure must be vertical and organized around a vertical axis. Ida Rolf created the Ten Series of Structural Integration with the idea of actualizing tensegrity in every person and utilizing a more accurate model such as Fuller’s to view the human structure.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]