Dynamic Chiropractic – March 12, 2001, Vol. 19, Issue 06

Tensegrity Therapy

By Warren Hammer, MS, DC, DABCO
Everyone in the "soft tissue" world would be ecstatic to be able to find the location of a primary restriction, either locally or distally in the body, that might be the underlying cause of dysfunction.
Tensegrity therapy, developed by George Roth,DC,ND, is a logical way of determining many of these underlying factors.

Knowledge is a continuous journey, it's been said, and one of the latest stops on this journey is the subject of tensegrity. Biological systems have always been modeled like the post-and-beam construction of a skyscraper, where a building must be rigid enough to withstand a heavy wind or any weight that cantilevers off its vertical structure. In comparing our bodies to rigid structures, standard post and beam Newtonian biomechanics have been used. This system of describing how our body functions have been adequate, but only to a point. According to a strict interpretation of Newtonian biomechanics, the human spine would buckle with less than the weight of the head on top of it; vertebral bodies would crush under the leverage of a fly rod held in the hand; and with each heartbeat arteries would lengthen enough to crowd the brain out of the skull.1

Tensegrity structures transmit loads through tension and compression only. A giraffe with its long neck can bring its neck back up after drinking water only by the use of the tension and compression within its tissues. According to present-day biomechanics, it would require a large T1 spinous from which a cable would attach to its occiput. Tensegrity refers to a system that stabilizes itself mechanically, because of the way in which tensional and compressive forces are distributed and balanced within the structure.

Scientists around the world have been studying the tensegrity model. There are many references too numerous to mention for this article. A good beginning would be to read the article in Scientific American2 by Dr. Donald E. Ingber. He describes tensegrity: "A universal set of building rules seems to guide the design of organic structures - from simple carbon compounds to complex cells and tissues." Mechanical stresses on cells are known to regulate tissue growth and development, and to alter cell form and function within our tensegrity system.3

Dr. Roth uses a method of palpation that allows us to feel a softening within the body, occurring when a lesion under abnormal tension is lightly compressed. Compression of a lesioned area "dampens" the tension within the total system (body), causing any palpated neutral area to soften. A basic tensegrity principle is that "a local force can change the shape of an entire tensegrity structure."2 A local force is used to evaluate and then treat the body. We have all experienced how patients' areas of pain have disappeared after treating some location not directly related to the painful site. Tensegrity therapy tells us how to look for these sites and restore function. The symptom location of patients, as has been quoted by many authorities, is often not the location of the cause. Chiropractic has always stressed treating the cause. Present-day knowledge tells us that the cause can be "anywhere." Tensegrity therapy is a breakthrough approach in finding and treating the "anywhere." For more information, check Dr. Roth's website: www.WellnessSystems.com.


  1. Levin SM. A different approach to the mechanics of the human pelvis: tensegrity. In: Vleeming A, Mooney V, et al. Movement Stabiity & Low Back Pain. New York, Churchill Livingstone.
  2. Ingber DE. The architecture of life. Scientific American, Jan 1998.
  3. Stamenovic D, Fredberg JJ, Wang N, et al. A microstructural approach to cytoskeletal mechanics based on tensegrity. J of Theoretical Biology, 181(2), 1996.

Warren Hammer,MS,DC,DABCO
Norwalk, Connecticut

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