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  • Inner Body and Outer Body Tensegrity

    One argument that I've heard with respect to tensegrity is that "all movements have to be tensegral". I'd just shared a post about fluid tensegrity with an introduction "Tensegrity at the joints means that movements and postures can have tensegrity or go without it."

    That was actually the point of the fluid tensegrity article, to show how tensegrity is maintained in the body at the level of the joints no matter what the body as a whole was doing.

    Dividing the Musculoskeletal System Into
    Inner and Outer Systems

    One of the ideas that occurred to me during the construction of the fluid tensegrity article is that perhaps it would help to think of posture and movement as forces and changes applied to the system of bones and joints.

    It would be as if there where two different systems, the bones and joints and the muscles that help to maintain tensegrity in the joints, and then the muscles, and the weight of the bones and organs that can apply various forces to the bones, joints and muscles. And even though they are one system it could help to draw a line, a border between the two systems. Since muscles affect both ligaments and joints, we could imagine each muscle in potentially two parts, one that works on the joints via the ligaments and the other that works on the relationship between bones via the tendons.

    Muscle Suits

    It could be a little like muscle suits that you read about in sci-fi novels (I'm thinking of Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton in particular.) These muscle suits can be removed, but when put on they interface with the body so that they act as an extension of the body. Movements of the body affect the muscle suit and in turn the muscle suits accentuates or accelerates those movements.

    Our own muscles, the layer that connect to bones via tendons could be viewed similarly, as an external suit that fits over the bones and the layer of muscle that connects ligaments and joint capsules.

    The inner layer, the full-time-protective-tensegrity layer, could work at maintaining tensegrity in any and all configurations of the body, and during any and all relationships with gravity and other external forces.

    The outer layer, the phasic-tensegrity-potential layer, would be part that inflicts change on the inner layer, holding it in position or moving it through various positions. This outer layer is the layer that we control or learn to control doing yoga, tai ji, using tools computers, doing art, making love etc.

    Overlapping Phasic Tensegrity Potentials

    While not a full time tensegrity, this layer at least has the potential to act like a tensegrity should we choose it to. One of the main reasons for this being an optional tensegrity is the shear multitude of shapes and movements that the outer shell can adopt. And so one of the ideas I'll put forward here is that the outer body is made up of a bunch of overlapping structures that can potentially act as tensegrities. When transitioning from one shape to another, one structure hands off to another.

    The idea here is that tensegrity can be smoothly maintained when moving or transitioning from pose to pose, or tensegrity can transition to non-tensegrity and back again, or non-tensegrity can transition to non-tensegrity. Throughout all of these tensegrity is maintained within the inner body at the joints so that the joints remain viable. They withstand the forces inflicted upon them by the outer body just as any tensegrity structure would.

    Going back to the sci-fi muscle suits, the suits would ideally be designed so that at no time did they act in such a way to damage the body within the suit. The outer layer of our body could have similiar controls in place to limit outer body movements so that they do not endanger the integrity of the inner structure.

    So then the question might be, why (and how to) work towards tensegrity when posing or moving the body?

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