Structural Integration has been a growing interest in North America. It’s roots stem from European descent; an evolutionary brain child of the fascial work seen in Dr Ida Rolf, the movement insights of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais and the whole-systems geometry of B. Fuller and many other influences. Amongst, those influenced is the widely known works of Tom Myers and Chris Federick.
It should be duly notes that Myers; started KMI (Kinesis Myofascial Integration) which continues to explore Structural Integration from the point of view of myofascial continuities.
In many articles we have taken a close look at the neuromyofascial web; the matrix provides a sliding and gliding environment for muscles, suspends organs into the abyss that is our body, and transmits nutrients and information for movement from muscle to bone – it is the “Queen bee” of our very organic structure – otherwise known as the human body. This flexible structure is able to resist great unidirectional tension forces until the wavy pattern of fibers has been straightened out by the pulling force.
YogaFORM “Surprising Differences in the Fascial Strain Transmissions:”
Earlier this week on my YogaFORM facebook page I posted the photo seen in figure 1a “Surprising differences in the fascial strain transmissions,;“ to bring to light the importance of movement and the associated relationships with reciprocal movement patterns.
Using the the ASLR (active straight leg raise) shown here; as an example of this ongoing exploratory conversation piece. The ASLR exercise is one of the 7 screening tests corrective movement coaches apply using the FMS screen. It tests the ability to disassociate the lower extremity while maintaining stability in the trunk. By assessing active hamstring and gastroc-soleus flexibility, we also look at how the client reacts to maintain a stable pelvis , as well as active extension of the opposite leg . It is important to note that the hamstrings and the pelvis have a high correlation together in the toe touch and the ASLR.
Taking into account the “flexibility, tensegrity and tone” of the hamstring, but also the reciprocal action of the opposite hip flexor group, as well as the lumbar and thoracolumbar fascia. This cross over affect supports bipedal motion.
“The word ‘tensegrity’ is an invention: a contraction of ‘tensional integrity.’ Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compression member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder.” – Buckminster Fuller
Sherri Leigh Iwaschuk, a renowned and well known RMT and KMI therapist/coach/movement guru/ – pick a label and she will successfully dominate any one of them; posed a great addition to our facebook YogaFORM chat . Sherri’s commentary, “It’s also worthwhile to note that contraction of the gluteus maximus might result in as much as 85% of the force transfer to the fascia latae, leaving only 15% to the femur, etc. This is a beautiful example of how muscles attach not only to bone (periosteum) but also to fascia and other muscles; laterally and even all the way to their antagonists. (Huijing)”
Sherri’s observation is correct, even in this picture there are only a few examples of the fascia strain transmissions to assoicated muscles, but not all are mentioned. The glutes, ITB TFL, even going as far as the latissimus dorsi and it’s points of attachement to the T7 – L5 of the spinal column, as well as the thoracolumbar fascia, iliac creast and inferior ribs and it’s innervation of the 6th, 7th and 8th cervical nerves. We can even go further down the rabbit hole and then discuss the relationship and direct impact of spinal structure in this specific case of the ASLR – but I will leave it here for now!
Potential Connections with the Role of Fascia and Overuse Musculoskeletal Disorders:
Tensegrity plays a large role in structural integration and corrective movement, as it helps to explain the instantaneous transmission of fascial strain forces against or working with associated patterns. Peripheral or secondary effects, can be noted in many cases of somatic trauma or overuse of muscle, fascia and the related breakdown of the systems (reduced recovery, poor re hydration and energy adaptations etc). On average, the neutral tensegrity has balanced tensional forces and can be noted as a stable and low-energy consuming structure at the molecular level, but when strained the structure can become rigid and inefficient; which is due to pre stressing along one or more of the associated lines of forces. This reduces the adaptively of the involved tissue and can alter the movement itself – thus establishing abnormal lines of force. Furthermore, this then can lead to hypertonicity and/or hypotonicity and imbalanced movement.
Needless to say that when overused muscles, in sport or even at the “corporate” level with hours upon hours of seated, seated and more seated movement can change the adaptability of the involved tissue, creating abnormal lines of tension in contiguous structures, that is unstable and high-energy consuming at the molecular level.
Conclusion of this conversation is that there are many factors that apply to any one movement, because movement is a sequence of reflex, reactionary processes, where there can be no isolation of one particular muscle or group of muscles. In the action of the ASLR we can see that it is a delicate balance of not only tension, force and release but also a balance of mobility and stability necessary for proper movement and activation of the lines to collectively transfer energy to all the parts that make up the sum of the whole.
Taking a closer look at the ASLR progression we need to consider mobility before stability. Improving the overall flexibility of the assoicated muscles, fascia etc, involved is our starting point. Dysfunction in motor control tends to be one of the most common causes for altered neuromuscular stabilization of the pelvis and hips. Therefore, when performing the ASLR or any movement pattern for that matter – keep the transmission strains and transfer of force in mind to the surrounding muscles groups, joints and fascia lines.
For more information on KMI:
As noted in Sherri’s informational segway via her website… “The design of KMI is to unwind the strain patterns residing in your body’s locomotors system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. Common strain patterns come about from inefficient movement habits, and our body’s response to poorly designed cars, desks, telephones, and airplanes, etc. Individual strain patterns come from imitation when we are young, from the invasions of injury or surgery or birth, and from our body’s response to traumatic episodes. Beginning as a simple gesture of response, movements can become a neuromuscular habit.” I could not put this into better words myself!
- Sherri Leigh Iwaschuk: http://www.sherrileighrmt.com/site/Welcome.html
- Myofascial force transmission: muscle relative position and length determine agonist and synergist muscle force – Peter A. Huijing and Guus C. Baan (doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00173.2002 . J Appl Physiol 94:1092-1107, 2003. First published 27 November 2002;)
- Tom Myers: Anatomy Trains – http://www.anatomytrains.com/kmi