When you were young did you ever play with a “tensegrity” toy that looks like the one below? Ends up this toy is one of the best methods I’ve found to explain the physics of human alignment and biomechanics.
Tensegrity is a combination of the words, “tension” and “integrity.” Tensegrity demonstrates how dysfunction in one part of the body will cause our entire structure to shift and compensate. Using this model, you can see how slight shifts in one joint will ultimately affect the whole body.
The physical body is comprised of over 360 joints and 600 muscles. When one of these joints loses its functional mobility and alignment, the surrounding muscles are forced to compensate. Any time one joint shifts the rest of the body is affected, just like anytime you move one area of the tensegrity toy all the other parts change position.
When our body has good functional mobility and alignment, our muscles work as they are designed; however, when the body has lost its structural integrity, dysfunctional movement patterns lead to wear and tear and ultimately pain.
Think of it like this: If you build a structure and the bricks don’t stack one on top of the other, the building will have reduced stability and balance, right? When the joints of the human body lose their vertical alignment, the same instability and imbalances occur.
Our medical system has become very good at treating symptoms and parts; however, this is not necessarily effective. The foot doctor can tell you most everything you need to know about symptoms of the foot. The knee doctor and hip doctor have a wealth of information about each of these body parts. But the foot is connected to the knee, which is connected to the hip, which is connected the spine, scapula, and shoulders. If you lose mobility or alignment in any joint, compensations will occur throughout the kinetic chain, just as the tensegrity model illustrates. This is why it’s imperative our medical system not only treat symptoms at the site of the pain, but begin treating the body as a whole.
Let me give you an example: If you have an unstable hip, this can lead to torque at the knee, and dysfunctional loading of the foot. If you treat the foot with an orthotic without addressing the rest of the load bearing joints, you may just be transferring dysfunctional forces somewhere else in the body. An interesting article in the New York Times documented a series of studies that found orthotics often cause the surrounding muscles to mwork 50% harder to achieve movement, simultaneously increasing stress on the joints by a similar amount. Orthotics might alleviate a symptom at the foot, but until you treat the rest of the body, you may find the pain symptoms move somewhere else down the road.
There is a much larger philosophical concept at play here that our medical system is hopefully on the road to incorporate. There is a time to look at each joint individually (micro), but we must also look at the integration of the entire body (macro) for long term health and healing. The term for this is “holistic” medicine.
The human body has a natural capacity for healing when given the correct stimulus. We are adaptable and have an internal healing capacity that is often not being tapped into with our current medial protocols. Effective methods do not just treat the symptom, but simultaneously look at the body as a whole, while educating and empowering patients to become active participants in their healing process.
Just as this concept applies to how we physically move through the space, these same concepts apply internally. Our physical body is made up of billions of cells, each with a specific purpose it’s designed to perform. Cells come together in groups to form organs. These cells not only have an individual action (micro), but also a group action (macro). When we are not living in accordance with our natural world, cells are forced to work overtime. This may be due to a lack of efficient movement, nutrition, sleep, mental stress, emotional stress, or environmental or chemical exposure. When conditions are not optimal, some of the smaller groups of cells may begin to rebel against work being forced upon them. These rebellions can spread leading to dis-ease if adequate conditions are not restored.
Getting into some deeper philosophy, all aspects of life seem to work within this micro and macro system and everything in life is connected. Rather than separate everything into parts, it’s wise to simultaneously consider the whole. This appears to relate to the nature of all aspects of life. For example, each human inhabiting this planet, can be likened to a cell (micro) within a larger body being the natural world (macro). Each of us influences the whole. When one cell is dysfunctional, if there are other functional cells in the environment, they may neutralize it; but when these dysfunctional cells begin to cluster, this leads to chaos and dis-ease. Each of us influence the whole, and the whole is only as healthy as each one of
Only when we live in alignment with our natural world physically, emotionally, and mentally can we expect to be healthy and well. Only when we educate and empower ourselves can there be true healing. There is no magic pill or artificial intelligence that will create this. Although we have wonderful new medical innovations, such as stem cells, PRP, PEMF, injections etc. we still must move well, eat well, sleep well, have social connection, and keep our mental and emotional stress in check. Each of us must take self-responsibility and action to heal.
I am here to support anyone in their healing process, the health of our society (macro) depends on each one of us (micro). The transformation of the world can only be brought about by the transformation of oneself. It’s up to each of us to shift the future of our planet.
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