The term tensegrity (or tensional integrity) was coined by architect Buckminister Fuller to describe a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension, in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other and the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.
The body is regarded as a tensegrity structure, meaning that the structural alignment of bones is supported by the fascial, connective tissue network, and that particular or general excessive tension and/or compression may compromise its structural integrity.
Joint space becomes compromised, fascia thickens to reinforce the posture or “compensatory pattern”, and bones and other soft tissues can drift out of alignment if such a situation perpetuates without attention.
Healthy Fascia Glides & Slides
Fascia that is exposed to hyper mechanical stress, inflamed or immobile, result in collagen disarray, fascial thickening, fibrosis, as well as adhesions. Healthy fascia glides and slides. Impairing the functional and structural continuity of fascia will lead to motor dysfunction, and overloading of tissue.
The focus for the physical therapist is to restore balance between the forces of tension and compression. The objective of the intervention is to engender an opening, expansion, a filling of space until the person is fully expressed, not constrained. Tensegrities expand in all axes at once. Open the structure in one dimension and every dimension expands.
Treating the person on the principles of tensegrity requires a whole body and whole person approach.
A combination of local changes and global reinforcement, with movement education can bring about a new soft tissue pattern that permits the whole structure to gradually change and sustain a more useful one.