Biotensegrity is currently gaining interest amongst many who practice within the field of bodywork and movement therapies as it recognizes the wholeness of the human body. An appreciation of the interconnectedness between every part of the organism is essential to a proper understanding of its functions. Hippocrates, advocated an holistic approach which looks at the person as a whole.
Biotensegrity offers a unique way of examining the human body in the light of new understanding about functional anatomy. It is an overriding concept that describes a relationship between every part of the organism and the mechanics that integrate them into a complete functional unit.
This concept can be attributed to the work of Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Levin MD who says that the body is made up of many bones and structures and that, if one applies an external force, the entire shape “adapts” or changes according to the applied force, up until a breaking point is reached. The level of force applied to individual joint structures will affect the function of the joint or how it moves. Too much force may a restrict a particular movement or cause pain and too little force can make a joint unstable or prone to injury. As the body adapts to poor movement at individual joints, pain can manifest in locations distant from the source of dysfunction
The tensile structures surrounding each joint hold the joint surfaces apart, so that in a well-functioning joint there is no pressure on the bones as they move. This has significant implications for joints such as the hip and knee which are well known to wear out and need replacement. It is also important in spinal care; traditionally the discs in between vertebrae are thought of as shock absorbers, but in the Biotensegrity model, when the spine is well aligned with correct tension in the surrounding muscles and ligaments, there is no pressure on the discs. As you can see in the picture, the red and blue cords, which represent spinal ligaments, are tensioned so that the vertebral box are held apart from each other.
Biotensegrity and Pregnancy
A particularly good example of Biotensegrity at work is during pregnancy due to the change in the centre of gravity. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released which results in a loosening of ligaments and joint structures throughout the body. These changes are gradual and occur over the entire nine months of pregnancy. Structure and function are inextricably linked as the skeletal frame has a direct impact on joint function. Differences in tensile and compressive forces throughout pregnancy can often lead to aches and pains as the body adapts. However, after the baby is delivered, there is an instantaneous change in forces affecting both structure and function. Relaxin stops being secreted causing ligaments to start tightening up again. This is a good time to assess the functioning of the musculoskeletal system to avoid misalignments.
Biotensegrity recognizes that interactions between different components of the body follow basic principles of self-organisation and it recognizes the wholeness of the human body.