Analogy Alert!

Structural Integration sometimes has what I believe to be an unfair association with being painful. I’ve never thought it should be (and any responsible practitioner will work within their patients’ limits). In this nice little post, Dr. Richard Podolny, likens it to removing a splinter: “It’s sore when you take it out but then you feel so much better.”

The Father of Tensegrity – Kenneth Snelson

UnknownWhen I type the word “tensegrity” into my phone it suggests “tense gritty”.  I think Kenneth Snelson thinks the same way.

“It feels like a bad breakfast cereal, ” he quipped as he literally chewed the word on its way out of his mouth during the first few minutes of his lecture Thursday night at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For someone who doesn’t like it, he would go on to use that word quite a lot tonight.

Kenneth was here because Pittsburgh has one of his pieces here – “Forest Devil” and was recently moved from its location downtown to the museum proper. He remembers it all quite fondly.  All the materials were made in Pittsburgh, he made he cables himself, and there were balloons everywhere at the public opening. He especially liked the balloons.

The son of a photographer and building contractor who built models as a child, Snelson studied painting for 2 years at the University of Oregon but it was at Black Mountain North Carolina in 1948 that he became obsessed structures, studying with Albers, de Kooning and Buckminster Fuller.

Bucky was trying to build his first geodesic dome back then, and it wasn’t working very well. As structures go, they were “supine Unknown-1domes”.  Snelson went away inspired and began building small structures. One of these features what he called an “X-Module” and was based on a kite frame. Fuller was enraptured with it and shortly thereafter invented the word “tensegrity” and declared that all of his structures were “tensegrity structures”.  As far as the controversy goes, Kenneth said, without a trace of rancor, ” I’ve told this story a lot and don’t want to anymore but let’s just say that Bucky decided that it was his and not mine.”

It wouldn’t  be until a Fuller exhibit 1959 in New York City that Snelson would finally get the credit he deserved (thanks to one of Fuller’s assistants).

The evening was full of great stories, amazing photographs, lab notes and computer animations. At 86, Kenneth is spry and still very vital.

Making these tensegrity structures is not ” an analytical or mathematical process” for Snelson, and sometimes they do fail.  A wire gets wrapped over a strut rather than under and “Pow! There’s this huge sound” and it all comes tumbling down. There is famous piece in Grand Rapids that slowly collapsed (losing its tensegrity?) even though it’s construction was “validated by a complicated computer system”.

These days Kenneth is obsessed with “Binariness – where lines intersect” which has led him to a very deep study of weaving.

“Weaving is the mother of tensegrity.”

I have heard that he doesn’t believe in/endorse the theory of biotensegrity and the when he subject of  “dynamic tensegrity” (very big in the robotics world) came up he simply said this: “It’s not my interest.  I’m interested in structures”.

I highly recommend Snelson’s book “Art and Ideas”  –  a free download at his website  where you can also find many of the pictures and videos we saw at this extraordinary evening.

Poetry in Motion

Motor control, proprioception, developmental movement – it’s all here.  Great moves at a bout 40 secs in

Why Fascia Matters

Brooke Thomas, author of the excellent breakingmuscle blog post on fascia and athletes has done it again!  This time in the form of an e-book “Why Fascia Matters” that you can download here.

If you’re not familiar with Brooke, she writes in a down-to-earth yet breezy style which is brilliant at getting through to the casual reader, i.e., most of our patients and clients. This one is a must!

Father of Tensegrity in Pittsburgh on 4/10/14

Kenneth Snelson, creator of the floating compression sculpture which is the foundation of tensegrity, will be giving a free lecture on that very subject tomorrow at 6:30PM  at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

My understanding is that Kenneth disagrees with the idea biotensegrity and as somebody who successfully applies that theory to the human body on a daily basis I would like to know why. If I get the chance, I will ask him, but the truth is I am just interested in having the opportunity of hearing what the man has to say.

And I’ll be telling you all about it, so check back on Friday for more tensegrity goodness.

That’s Mr. BoneHead to You!


5385315-x-ray-of-a-male-skeleton-with-his-brain-displayed-isolated-on-a-black-backgroundWhat would you say if I told you that your bones can affect your liver, testes,  fat stores, pancreas and your brain?  Well, it does in mice thanks to a 49 amino acid protein called osteocalcin.

Gerard Karsenty has been studying osteocalcin for decades now and recently published a paper showing how bone plays a direct role in memory and mood. It seems that while being a protein, osteocalcin acts as a hormone and a ”messenger, sent by bone to regulate crucial processes all over the body.”

The question I’m  left with: Is there a connection between osteocalcin and glia? Send your theories here. And do some resistance exercises.


What Makes the Seahawks’ Golden Tate so Awesome?

Could it be Rolfing Structural Integration bodywork?

Says Tate: You always have to do something to prepare yourself for the next game.  I’m staying on top of it with Rolfing (Structural Integration).” 

See the video here.

Science, Literature and Confirmation Bias

Science is in a bit of a crisis right now, according to Michael Suk-Young Che and it’s because of  the selective use of data. Psychologists call this “confirmation bias” – we cherry pick data that conforms to our wishes and our world view. We seek out information that confirms what we already believe. And I believe confirmation bias may be a cousin of rationalizations, anyway…

An example of this was reported in Nature, where Glenn Begley and Lee M Ellis reported  being able to replicate results in only six out of 53 landmark cancer studies.

The solution: apply some of the rigorous standards of literary criticism.  Quote from critic E. D. Hirsch: “every interpreter labors under the handicap of an inevitable circularity: All his internal evidence tends to support his hypothesis because much of it was constituted by his hypothesis.

And Che finds that an apt analogy for the state of research today.


New Year, New Blog

First of all, thank you for all the positive feedback and support you have given to the FC blog. It has been a very successful first year, and I am really looking forward to another year of informative fun here in 2014.

I have to admit that I felt better about the first 6 months of the blog than the last six, in terms of content, but I do want to assure you readers that FascialConnections will be more regular in 2014. IT is my New Years Resolution that there will be regular updates of at least several times a week, sometimes daily. If you want to receive e-notices of when there’s a new article, go here.

So we’ve all made New Years Resolutions before and they’ve always worked, right? get-in-losers-were-going-to-do-science

So let’s take a moment to look at how we can do that better, and let’s use science!

The NYT recently had a nice piece on just that. Here’s the high points:

1) Make a Plan.

We know this, make and plan and see it through (that’s what Brian Boitano would do). Write it down. Put a date on it. Researchers found  that when people wrote down the specific date they would get their flu shot they were 13% more successful than the control group. So make a plan, it’s like a promise to yourself and harder to break than a “mental note”.

2) Risk Something, Put it on the Line

Okay, this kind of negative reinforcement does not appeal to me but a study published in JAMA found that individuals who agreed to a monetary penalty for not losing weight actually lost, on average, 14 more pounds than the control group. And there are other studies.

3) Be in an Environment that Supports the Change

Alan Deutschman documented this quite well in his book Change or Die (which I highly recommend to anyone in the ” Change Industry”). If you are trying to change a behavior, achieve a goal, what have you, surround yourself with people who have done the same thing.

A 2012 study on peer mentoring among diabetics found that talking to others who were  successful in managing their glucose control, lowering their hemoglobin A1c , was actually more successful than those who were in the monetary reward group (who lowered their hemoglobin A1c, but not in a clinically significant way).

So there you have it, some bits on the science of change. It’s new year: go out, change yourself and change world!

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