Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tai Chi and Tensegrity


I recently wrote about how the internal connections in our body are used to move in tai chi. You can read that here. I had planned that this week's article would be about a new idea that has been floating around lately called tensegrity. 

In physics and engineering, the word "tensegrity" means that a body is supported by the internal connections that create tension in the connecting pieces and compression in the supporting pieces. This prevents bending moments in the support pieces. You can read more here at Wikipedia. I am an engineer and I understand this. An example of tensegrity is a suspension bridge. A system of connecting cables keeps a bridge in the proper shape. If one of the cables is cut, the bridge no longer functions properly.

People are starting to claim that the muscles, bones, facia, tendons, and ligaments of the body work in this way, too. This had led to claims that body work related to facia can help with releasing tension and improving general health. I am absolutely positive that I do not understand this.

I have spent many hours over the last week researching this topic. I can find many articles. I cannot find any useful articles. For example, I read one article that uses the phrase, "Connective tissue is a continuous living matrix that unites each cell in the body in an intelligent energetic web." What? That sentence is unintelligible. It has no meaning to me.

Later, the same article says, "Tensegrity accounts for the body’s ability to absorb impact without damage." I have to ask why? I don't understand the connection. Then it goes on, "The more relaxed and flexible the body, the more likely that energy will be taken in as information rather than injury." Again, What? That sentence is unintelligible. It has no meaning to me.

I have seen web pages with elaborate drawings of human anatomy. One makes the statement, "That all important role of holding everything together is left {mostly} up to the body’s connective tissues, displayed as the white sections on the muscle chart, and together, collectively known as the fascia."

I see a lot of unproven claims with no explanation of why they are true. These quotes are from what seem to be some of the better web pages. There are many others that are much harder to believe. If you know of any sources that clearly explain how this works, please let me know in the comments below. And don't tell me about buckyballs. I understand the engineering. I don't understand how any of this relates to the human body.

© 2013 Eric Borreson