What is Biotensegrity?
Biotensegrity is a (relatively) new concept and is a different way of thinking about how the body works.
Traditional thinking is that the bones are the building blocks of the body. However, there’s another way to think about things and it started with Kenneth Snelson.
Kenneth Snelson in the late 1940s created sculptures with struts and tension tendons. These struts and tendons support each other, providing the structure, but without actually touching each other.
The picture below is our effort at making a tensegrity model:
A few decades later, in the 1970s, an orthopaedic surgeon called Stephen Levin, saw how tensegrity could be applied to the human body. He thought the tensegrity model could explain the mechanics of the human body which aren’t explicable by conventional beliefs. So the term ‘biotensegrity’ was coined. This concept is a new way of understanding the anatomy of our body on a functional and scientific level.
Let’s take a closer look.
A New Way to Interpret Movement
Let’s consider the field of biomechanics.
Biomechanics, by definition, is the study of mechanics and its relationship to the human body.
As a concept, it does come under criticism. Biomechanics puts too much faith in the likeness of the human body to a mechanical being. In reality, our bodies aren’t as robotic as biomechanics portrays them to be. We are not cars and there’s generally not a simple fix.
As we said above, traditional thinking is that bones are the building blocks of the human body. The bones and joints take the brunt of the weight or load. Over time, with this increased weight, joints are prone to conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Biotensegrity, however, states quite a different view.
A Different View
The important difference between the biomechanical view and the biotensegrity view is that the muscles around the bone distribute the load, as opposed to the bones and joints themselves.
This belief holds that, if you keep your muscles strong and limber, they’ll absorb the load instead of your bones, individually.
The idea of biotensegrity, as stated above, is based on the tensegrity structure. Tension and compression help form this structure.
The structure mirrors that of the human body: a collection of rigid bones floating in a network of soft muscular tissue.
It’s this view of the human body that’s changing the way we view pressure on joints.
What’s the correct way to consider physical human movement?
The principles of biomechanics only go so far. Why do some people develop arthritis whereas other people of the same age and fitness activity don’t?
From this point of view, it seems that biotensegrity is a more meaningful approach to viewing load exerted on the joints
It also seems to be a more desirable way to look at things as well. As long as you stay strong and flexible you’ll preserve the integrity of your bones and joints!
Here are some links to previous posts where we’ve discussed the benefits of strengthening what you stretch. Maintaining flexibility of the spine is also a founding principle of the Pilates teachings.
Trying out different exercises is key to improving and maintaining the body’s flexibility, which in turn can help with recruiting muscles efficiently.
If you’ve got any questions on the above, then please let us know (click for contact details).
Remember – Listen to Your Body!
Please remember to listen to your body. Get any aches and pains checked out sooner rather than later.
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