So here we are in the 21st century and things are changing fast in medicine. While there is still plenty of political jockeying, we clearly see an increase in communication and cooperation between the standard allopathic medical world and those of us practicing the art of manual or natural medicine.
A big reason for this is an explosion in the emerging science of fascial research. As I’ve said before, fascia was, by and large, ignored in the sciences of anatomy, neurology, bio-engineering, and physiology. Of course this is now low hanging fruit for the research scientist and it’s full of flavor.
One term that we all will be seeing more of in the next decade is Biotensegrity. It just sounds cool, doesn’t it!? This term stems from a concept in building construction where structures are held up by their members under tension (like guy wires) rather than just compression (like walls and columns). The human body is built this way, as it turns out, and this is evidenced by the fact that, when we stand up, two amazing things happen; or don’t happen as the case may be.
In a conversation I had with Stephen Levin MD, an orthopedic surgeon who has written and researched about this topic, I learned that when we stand, our joints never touch and there is no increase in intra-articular pressure. If that doesn’t at least make you curious then we need to have a little talk.
“How can this be?” asks the curious reader. Well, this is where bio-engineering starts to get really cool. All of the force of gravity pushing down on us is distributed throughout our muscular system along lines of tension such that the force is almost entirely taken off of the joints and bones. Remember, bones are really just there for points of attachment for fascia. So, all force is distributed through the fascial system and the nerves inside that system sense every movement and coordinate that movement to the rest of the body via connections in the spinal chord, thus allowing this coordination of force distribution. (My personal belief is that there is communication going on even outside of the spinal chord, but that is going to be hard for me to prove since I’m not a research scientist). Now, imagine how complicated this can all get when your doing yard work, or practicing your front kicks, or throwing your 10 year old son into the pool (he might complain about that but in reality, he loves it). Yes, it gets very complicated and, more importantly, it gets very significant when muscles ARE NOT working right. Various pathologies (problems) can cause muscles to literally tear us apart, which is what accelerates joint degeneration.
Now, we have great surgeons at places like the Hedley Orthopedic Institutes right here in the valley but these surgeries are very costly. Imagine what we could save the health care system (and maybe we’d actually see that in reduced health insurance premiums) if we began to proactively apply modern manual medicine techniques that could balance muscle performance and help us all avoid those joint replacement surgeries. Now that is forward thinking.
So, the next time you’re standing up, remember how important your fascial system is to Biotensegrity. And if you’re really curious about it’s importance to your health, then make an appointment and I’ll show you why your knee or your shoulder hurts. Just be sure to stop me from talking too much. You know how I can get when I’m incredibly excited about something.