Hello everyone, This week we will closer look at the biological-tension-integrity model of Biotensegrity to understand how health is related to integrity and disease to disintegration or a loss of integrity.

We will then focus on restoring balanced and continuous tension throughout the body. We will learn how changes to the body’s structural architecture, allow the body’s self-organizing ability to move towards a better state of health, towards body-wide structural integration.

In order to properly understand health, dysfunction and disease, we must first examine how the body is organized—the architecture of the system and the way that it operates.

Considering the postural and locomotion system as a biotensegrity system values and is in harmony with the concept of the fascia as a body-wide interconnected tensional network with continuity and connectivity.

Biotensegrity is a biological-tension-integrity architectural model

  • The structure consists of stable and elastic elements.
  • The elastic elements are in a state of tension.
  • The stable elements are connected to one another only by elastic elements.
  • The stable elements do not have direct connections to anywhere.
  • The elastic elements provide tension throughout the system.

Tensegritys unique features

Playing with these models reveals several unique features: Put strain into a tensegrity structure and the deformation will get distributed all over the structure. Continuous compression structures like buildings do not show this property, but bodies do. Load one corner of a building with a huge amount of snow, and that corner might collapse, leaving the rest of building intact. Load a tensegrity, and it will distribute the strain around the whole structure. Ergo:

  • Where will a strained compression structure break?
    Where the strain is greatest.


  • Where will a tensegrity structure break under strain?
    At its weakest point.

If we are a tensegrity structure, the ‘load’ that is causing pain or strain in the low back may be sourced in the foot or the shoulder – so we have to be able to see the pattern to know where to intervene. Erik Dalton says, “Don’t chase the pain!” Ida Rolf said: Where you think it is, it ain’t.” Both of these point to the tensegrity nature of the body.


Often our clients’ bodies are contracted and retracted and immobilized in some ways, in some parts. We want 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.

Neither buildings nor balloons display this property, but tensegrity structures and bodies do.

The key aspects of human body structure conform with the biotensegrity principle, with long musculofascial chains(elastic elements) forming a tension network with the bones(stable elements). This system is highly responsive to movement; it is dynamic.

As such the human body has an ability to adapt to its ever-changing environment. The principles of biotensegrity provide an explanation as to how the body can receive constantly changing mechanical forces, disperse these forces throughout the organism, convert them into biochemical signals within the cell, and retain its structural integrity.

As a fundamental architectural building block of biological organisms, biotensegrity can be demonstrated at all size scales within the human body. From molecules and cells to tissues and organs, each level can be viewed as a biotensegrity structure intimately connected in a hierarchical organization with the level above and below.

Biotensegrity-based interventions like Adaptive Bodywork focus on restoring balanced and continuous tension throughout the body, by addressing restrictions, referred to as scars or adhesions, that distort the continuity of the connective tissue architecture.

One of the characteristics of life is structural and functional interdependency between multiple parts at multiple size-scales, from molecules upwards,

Living tissues, however, operate in exactly the same way in a healthy body as a dysfunctioning one, in the sense that the underlying physiological processes always follow the same principles and are constrained by the same rules of self-organization. Even though homeostasis is built into the system, a change in the balance of forces in one region can shift it away from its normal operating parameters, with the tissues now acting within a different set of constraints and displaying a different pattern of behaviour.

So, while it is the responsibility of the practitioner to understand the client’s problem, it is equally important to recognize that treatment is about initiating changes, and then allowing the body’s inherent self-organizing mechanisms to respond to this as it moves towards a different state of health. The resolution of a local condition can then require a whole-body approach to treating it, or vice versa, particularly if tissues some distance away have become chronically adapted to changes in the structural balance, and an understanding of biotensegrity provides the rationale for this.

Biotensegrity describes a relationship between every part of an organism and the mechanical system that integrates them into a complete functional unit.

Biotensegrity is thus not really about treatment, techniques or fixing problems but a different way to understand what is going on inside the body.

Treatment is then more than just changing tissue tensions or improving mobility but a process that alters the tissue geometry, changes the architecture, and allows the body’s self-organizing ability to move towards a better state of health, towards bodywide structural integration.

The value of biotensegrity is not that it changes a particular mode of treatment but that it provides a better means to visualize the workings of the body in the light of new understandings about functional anatomy.

Join us next week for:
"The Body is not Anatomy"

Have you got questions?
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Together, we’ll set you on a path to a more balanced and integrated life.
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