Tension gets a bad rep.
But the truth is, it is a vital quality of our muscle fibers and fascia tissue. Muscles are never completely relaxed, there’s always a muscle tone present. “All the fascia and connective tissue, in fact all collagen, have intrinsic tension within them. Even under deepest anaesthesia, when you cut muscle, it retracts and pulls apart.” To quote Dr. Steven Levin, professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at John Hopkins and MAJOR proponent of Bio-Tensegrity.
So why are we always trying to get rid of tension? It is actually through harnessing tension, that the postures pictured below are possible. It’s time to reframe the way we think about tension. Instead of eliminating tensile tissue our focus should be to how to balance tension.
The bones in our body float in a sea of supple fabric.
They aren’t braced by fixed joints and supports like the compression structure of a house. Instead, they are suspended in place by the fluid tension of our muscles and fascia.
Thanks to the harmony of this tension, we are able to breath, stand, move and do truly epic shit. We call this Bio-Tensegrity and understanding this fluid tension system not only helps us stay healthy and uninjured, it also allows us to harness the limitless potential of our movement practices.
Go on amazon, order a tensegrity model (image on the right) and play with it. You’ll get an idea of how fascia, tissue and bones respond to stress. Compress one area of the model, notice how it compensates all over. Same is true with our bodies. Compress/tighten/immobilize one area of the body and it will ripple subtle distortions throughout the all participating tension lines. It won’t snap at this point of compression like a house would. Instead, as the force disperses over the body, it will then concentrate and possibly break (youch!) at its weakest point.
How do we apply this idea to our practice? Take time to bring a “whole body” approach to your movement routines. Add movers, teachers and methodologies that focus on integrated mobility and sensation, especially if you spend a lot of time on one-size-fits-all “alignment” practice or a limited or linear routine.
Movement & Wellness Studio
Helix Alternative Movement Studio in Westport. Yoga, Calisthenics, Meditation, Strength Training, Stretching and Traction, Foam Rolling and Animal Locomotion Classes. Yoga Teacher Trainings 200hr & 300hr