Strained Tensegrity Structure


“The best osteopath is the best engineer; the best engineer is the best osteopath.“

– Andrew Taylor Still –
Founder of the Osteopathy

The principles of tensegrity apply at essentially every detectable size scale in the human body.

At the macroscopic level, the 206 bones that constitute our skeleton are pulled up against the force of gravity and stabilized in a vertical form by the pull of tensile muscles, tendons and ligaments (the connective tissue-fascial system).

The connective tissue system is organized into three layers. The superficial fascia is associated with subdermal tissues, muscles and joints. The deep fascia surrounds and supports the viscera. The meninges form the membrane system around the brain and spinal cord. Mechanoreceptors and pain receptors are present within the fascial system and help to continually monitor the changing tensions and metabolic conditions, which may influence this system.

The connective tissue-fascial system forms a complex web, which provides stability, flexibility and mobility. A dynamic balance is continually maintained within this extensive system to allow for adaptation to the demands of different activities and to the restrictions, which may be imposed by traumatic lesions within these tissues.

Tensegrity Model

The Tensegrity Structural Model (TSM) of the body holds that the body tissues are composed of interconnected tension icosohedra (complex triangular trusses) which inherently provide a balance between stability and mobility.

That nature applies common assembly rules is implied by the recurrence – at scales from the molecular to the macroscopic – of certain patterns, such as spirals, pentagons and triangulated forms. These patterns appear in structures ranging from highly regular crystals to relatively irregular proteins and in organisms as diverse as viruses, plankton and humans. After all, both organic and inorganic matter are made of the same building blocks: atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus. The only difference is how the atoms are arranged in three-dimensional space.

An increase in tension in one of the members results in increased tension in members throughout the structure – even ones on the opposite side.

This structural model explains the physiologic changes, which manifest in injured or strained tissue. The apparent fibrosis of muscle and fascia can be seen as an altered electro-mechanical relationship at the molecular level. The tensegrity structure is thus converted from a neutral, flexible form to a strained, high-energy, linearly-stiffened mode as shown in Figure.