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Structural Balance: Why It’s Important

By Gavin Buehler

This month in lieu of our guest feature (which returns again next month) I thought that I would explain one of the concepts that plays a role in how we view the body when assessing and treating patients.

The majority of the injuries that I see with my patients are usually the result of some form of structural imbalance. What do I mean by this? Let me try to explain…

Our bodies are designed in such a way that everything is interwoven and in a pre-tensioned state. When everything is balanced as it should be, we are able to adapt to and withstand different ranges of internal or external forces. This is what makes our bodies so resilient. To give you an idea of how this works, Fascial Stretch Therapy founders Chris and Anne Frederick often use the example of a geodesic dome (think of a dome tent) from the writings of Donald E. Ingber. When the poles and tent fabric are placed together and under balanced tension, you have a durable attenuating structure. By themselves, the fabric or poles wouldn’t be able to stand erect with integrity if at all. The term tensegrity is used to describe this sort of structural phenomenon.

So, we have bones which act similar to the poles of the tent, and soft tissues such as fascia, muscles, ligaments, etc. that are like the fabric. If any of the soft tissues are tensioned more or less than they should be, the entire structure will be unbalanced and compromised.

Of course we can still function, but not optimally and usually at the expense of an area of our body that is compensating for this imbalance. You can drive a car that’s slightly off alignment for quite some time, but more wear is put on the tires and they will need to be changed much faster than if the car were aligned properly. Sometimes that extra wear might result in a premature flat. Often times our joints are like the tires of a misaligned vehicle. This is why I am so keen on structural balance as it can provide a solution or prevention to many of the ailments we experience.

Here's a quick simplified video to give you a visual.


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