Tension plus integrity equals optimal spinal function and spinal tensegrity is a powerful concept to understand. It correlates with why visiting the Chiropractor on a regular basis for optimal spinal integrity influences optimal function throughout the body.
“Tensegrity” was coined by Buckminster Fuller, an American Engineer, Architect and Visionary who developed structures that functioned based on a form of tension.
The common viewpoint of the spine is that it is a vertical stack of bones, like a tower of blocks, with one bone supporting the stability of the next. There are bones or vertebrae in a vertical dimension within the spine creating stability, but the column of these bones are not keeping the body erect and stable, but rather utilizing contraction and expansion.
Continuous compression is found within buildings where there are structural loads that are stabilized to withstand a given amount of force per square foot and can remain intact if that area destabilizes. For example, if one area of square footage takes on too much snow during the winter, that roof area may destabilize and collapse, but there should still be stability within the rest of the building leaving the frame of the house and remaining rooms intact.
The spine does take on compressive forces and provides a framework of stability for the body as a whole, but the spine is not a tower of sorts with a basement that doesn’t move. Our entire body is fluid and moving, taking on compression from the inside out and outside in more than one area at a time, more similar to a balloon than a tower. The spine has an ability to take on forces and distribute them throughout the entire network of floating fulcrums that contract and expand as the forces are applied.
Looking at the spine from the viewpoint of taking on compressive forces similar to an inflated balloon can help you comprehend how the spine distributes tension for optimal integrity. When you blow up a balloon, the rubber from the balloon expands due to the pressure from the inside air molecules pushing against it. As the pressure from the inside pushes against the rubber balloon continuously throughout the entire area, it inflates into the shape of the balloon. So, too, does external pressure or stress on the balloon from the outside in. If you push against the balloon on the outside, that pressure distributes throughout the entire balloon in a continuous manner creating a distributed balance of tension, plus integrity or compression plus expansion. So, too. does the spine distribute forces through a complex network of vertebrae, intervertebral discs, connective tissue and nerves (vertemere).
The spine could be compared to a balloon not in the manner of having a contained amount of air molecules exerting forces from the outside-in, but rather, a functional mobile network of tissue supporting multiple angles of movement and degrees of freedom for the ability to withstand forces throughout the entire structure due to the tensegrity of forces being distributed throughout, allowing it to withstand heavy loads of stress.
The spine takes in stress and destructive forces from the outside-in and inside-out and the ability to withstand these forces through a distribution of compression and expansion makes it a point within the body for converting forces. In physics, Newton’s Third Law states: when one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal-and-opposite force on the first object. This law is taking place within the physiology of the spine in the vertemere. The vertemere is a physiologically constructed system or network of tissue formed for the function for taking on compression and converting forces into constructive energy for overall adaptation.
The practice of chiropractic focuses on the spine due to the intimate relationship the vertebrae, intervertebral discs and connective tissue of the spine have with the neurological system. This intimate relationship between the neurological system and the integrity of the spine protecting the delicate structure of the nerves is the structure-function relationship that Chiropractors utilize to positively influence more normal function within the neurology and throughout the body for well-being.
The tensegrity of the spine affects the function of the neurological system. The function of the neurological system is coordination of the trillions of cells throughout the body through the information or the code to life that the physiology requires for an optimal state of well-being.