Understanding How We Move

Gross anatomy has evolved dramatically and the latest findings are not readily accessible, except perhaps to the science geeks among us.

The good news is that you don’t need to know all the details to use your natural capabilities. Here’s a short summary to start.


A Bit of Anatomical History

Two historical milestones had a major impact on our understanding of the human body and movement, even up to the present day.

  • Gray’s Anatomy, the first anatomy book, published in 1858 as a textbook for medical students. A static model based on dissection.
  • Isaac Newton’s works about the laws of motion and gravity, published much earlier in the late 1600’s. Mechanics of the physical world.

They were broadly accepted, regarded as facts, incorporated into text books and taught to students at all levels.

This led to the persistent belief that the body has specific parts (bones, muscles and joints plus organs) that follow mechanical laws. And these parts can be developed or fixed individually.

Unfortunately most current fitness and therapeutic regimes are still based on this model. We’ve build standards and rules from a model that’s not accurate and doesn’t account for individual variability.

The Anatomy of Movement

Two other important advances provide a more complete and accurate picture of how our bodies function.

  • Connective tissue Even before Gray’s Anatomy was written, Borden was investigating the tissue between the body parts. This work continued as physicians and scientists identified the 3 layers of connective tissue (including fascia) and their roles in nourishing, healing and moving the body.
  • Biotensegrity In the mid 1970s, Dr Stephen Levin developed a biotensegrity model that explains how our bodies move. Not according to Newton’s laws (like leverage), but according to a tension-based model (tensegrity) pioneered by Buckminster Fuller, developer of geodesic domes, and others in the 1960’s.

Very simply, our body structure made up of “sticks” (bones that do not touch) and “strings” (fascia that connects to everything). Bones don’t move, fascia moves bones. There is a pre-stress to the entire system which locks in the forces and distributes them through the whole body. So we are stable and yet have a wide scope of natural movement – like a tent with sides and supports that can move and still maintain its structure, even when turned upside down.

In this biotensegrity structure, fascia facilitates movement and transmits force. So contrary to common beliefs:

  • Knee problems don’t originate in the knees,
  • Strength is not based on muscle development,
  • Some movement problems or pain can be corrected in a few minutes.

When you learn and apply the new anatomy of movement, you’ll be at the forefront of developmental movement, able to achieve lasting results more quickly. Because even though the science has been around for many years, it is not widely known or practiced by health and movement professionals.

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