The Biotensegrity Model

Let me tell you an amazing story that illustrates this model. The story was told during the Second International Convention for the Study of the Fascia, held in Amsterdam in 2009.
One of the most fascinating characters at the convention was Stephen M Levin MD who is a research scientist, a medical doctor and a Rolfer (someone who treats with the Rolfing technique).
As circumstances had it, he needed a knee operation. He knew that during the operation the knee joint would be exposed so he asked one of his colleagues to perform the operation so that he could be awake throughout it, meaning that the operation would be done under local anaesthetic only and they could conduct a little experiment during the operation. When the kneecap was moved aside and the joint was exposed he asked his surgeon friend to hold his foot and push the shin into the exposed joint and to try and close the gap between the bones, to simply make them connect with one another. He for his part would try to counter the action and also try to get the bones to meet.
The surgeon agreed and so they did as planned, only surprisingly the bones would not connect! The gap between them remained and the efforts of the two friends where in vain.

Our friend of course expected and indeed hoped for that outcome, he just wanted to grab the attention of the orthopaedic surgeon, but to no avail – he was not impressed.

Why am I telling this story? The doctor was trying to illustrate the biotensegrity model to the orthopaedic surgeon.

The idea is that the human body relates to gravity according to the biotensegrity model and not according to the simple physical model active on inanimate mechanical objects.

That’s why pressure which would close a gap in a regular structure doesn’t do so in the living body.

The bones of the living body don’t function like the skeleton of a building! They don’t carry the weight! That’s why pressure on them doesn’t produce the expected result!

The weight and pressure of the living body is carried by the tension throughout the entire structure, and the structure is like a system of cables which in certain places also contain pieces of metal or hard wood, but there is no direct connection between two rigid pieces, all the connections pass through the cables and the tension is the thing which holds the structure.

For a more detailed description of the model visit Stephen M Levin MD website and watch the video which illustrates the model.

Now that we’ve understood the principle of the biotensegrity model it’s time to try and understand what it means for us in the course of our own regular movement. On this point the next post will contain a short video to illustrate the matter.

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When I flew to Oslo I knew that I had a lesson to learn and to teach there about love.

By Avi Bahat Therapy – date: Thursday 7th April 2011, 17:17 (originally it was ritten in face booke in Hebrew)

I knew when I flew to Oslo that I had a lesson to teach and to learn over there concerning love. I didn’t know what it was.

I think it was on the fifth day that during work something became clear – suddenly the penny dropped and it became so simple and obvious that it almost seemed pointless to mention, but seeing as I know to what extent I am not there when its not so clear and obvious, I will try to verbalise it for myself and for anyone interested.

I arrived with the attitude to the little upward movement of the ribs that accompanies inhaling, even the connection between that movement and the healing power of the colour green was already with me when I left Israel, but it was the simple understanding, of the physiology of the closing of the heart and the other option, that unfolded before me there in Oslo.

It is simple because obvious that when something bad is done to us, the heart closes up.

You can say it another way: The heart is a sensitive place, and when attacked the muscles and bones rush in to protect it.

As a child Josie (assumed name, real story), experienced a serious attack on her heart every time her father hit her. Her father didn’t understand what it was doing to her – he was also beat up and didn’t feel he was harmed by it.

Little Josie was so sad that her daddy didn’t love her that she couldn’t bear the sorrow – it was too great a sadness for a little girl – the muscles and ribs came to her rescue by tightening strongly – a hermetic seal – her heart wouldn’t be hurt it would simply not feel the uncontainable, destroying sadness of knowing that daddy (and mummy by not interfering) doesn’t love me.

What keeps the emotions from not getting in, is that the ribs are rigid, not free moving with the breath, and the chest muscles are tight all the time! As a result, the shoulders close inwards and join in on this protection of the heart – so that it doesn’t “break”.

When Josie remembers what was done to her, how they treated her as a child, she becomes full of rage and a desire for revenge, were she not in the midst of a years long development processes, that anger would have severed the ties she had with them, shattering it and disconnecting it, if not worse.

Now when she is continuing her process with me, there’s a small physical thing that can be an opening for change – it is that little movement of the ribs that if we colour it in our imagination in green and let it happen, then just like the waves in the sea, the breastbone that is like a long canoe goes up stream every time with the inhale towards the head and returns downwards with the exhale, and that little movement with the healing colour green, opens the heart, and allows the confidence giving oxygen to enter the inner space of the heart, and also heals the wound that opens wide there when the emotion gets in.

But here is the little twist because the first emotion that gets in is not necessarily the difficult emotion of being unloved but the pleasant and comforting emotion of being loved and together with it the understanding that only I, for myself, can love or not love. When that little motion of my ribs occurs – my heart opens up, because that movement connects me to life, to breath that is the sign of life, to oxygen that is the first food of life, when I experience that little movement I experience the fact of my life and if I give that feeling some attention, then before the different thoughts jump up on me and push away the feeling of being,

I have this moment to feel alive and to love it – to be and to experience the fact that to be is to love, and to love is to be open to life, and that everything else is just tales of what is above and below and beside and besides. Everything else is just thoughts, and thoughts are for me always judgemental and comparing and always when they are disengaged from any real sensation in the body, they tear me away from my feeling of life, suddenly I am like in a story, and have ceased to experience my own life,. That is what its like to be afraid, that is what its like to be angry, and that is what its like with every other emotion,

But, when I am open to my sense of being, when I experience it – I love, and only I can do that – no one else can do it for me, and how we long for another to love us?

So that’s it, that’s what I came to learn, and to teach, and in the meantime I tried to teach that little movement of the ribs and breastbone so that it acts as a gateway to the opening of the heart.

Love,

Avi

Translated by Guy Malbec

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The Heart Center – A lesson in Love

(or the physiology of  loving)

Why does the heart center capture such an important place in our approach?
Or what is the meaning or significance of this center – what is the functionality that places it so squarely in the center?

“Open your heart” she tells me, “Why is yours so uptight? … yeah, that’s better, go on, go on opening it, let go, more, no need to carry on holding there just let go.”

What do we hold in there? Why is it that with (almost) all off us it is so closed and what does it mean to open it, and what for?

The heart center sits on the most important energetic junction of our bodies. The junction that connects the horizontal and vertical flows.

The Vertical Flow
Defines our physical existence which is a direct product of the existence of gravity. Gravity pulls our body to the center of the earth, but the outer crust of the planet acts so as to counter our mass, a force that prevents our merging with the planet and creates pressure inside our body and as a result a sense of being.

And the Horizontal Flow?
The horizontal flow (the line that connects one palm to the other when they are perpendicular to the body or parallel to the ground) expresses our creation, both in the sphere of human relations and in the physiological sense – the things we make with our hands or even our minds are our creations.

These two energetic flows crossover at the heart center.

In an optimal organizational state of our system, these flows are connected and feed one another and our entire existence.

The heart center is present in both and forms an important part of both.

In the internal part of the heart center the action responsible for center-outwards blood flow occurs.,
In the external part of the heart center breathing happens.

It is interesting to note that these twin actions represent the term “love” in a complementary way.

Love according to this approach is a state of flow that springs from open channels, as opposed to a condition of flow failure due to blocked channels.

Both these activities are necessary to sustain life; they are activities of combining the internal and external, activities that express the interdependence of the internal and external.

Blood flow is pushed from the heart outwards to all extremities of the body but depends no less on the blood’s return from the extremities to the heart. Breath sucks air and mainly oxygen from the outside into the lungs and with the help of the bloodstream the oxygen reaches the whole body. But for the oxygen to enter, exhaling must occur which creates sub-pressure that creates inwards suction of air.

Again there is interdependence: oxygen from the outside cannot enter before the pressure is vacated by exhaling, and cells cannot receive oxygen otherwise than from the blood that reaches them, etc.

This free flow inwards and outwards and between the center and extremities is the essence of love – open flow in and out.

Such open flow demonstrates the essential interconnection of all that is – between out and in and between center and extremities.

If we only understood that interdependence in the world we live in, if we only understood the interdependence of the center of the world with the external remote dispersed extremities, if we only understood that no full life can exist without this open flow in – out, center – extremities, perhaps we would find it less difficult to be reconciled with people who hurt us, love those who are far away, as then we would lean on the understanding that there is no real separation that we are all part of a larger organism and in the same way we would not want different parts of our body to fight one another, so we would not want to take part in a war between different parts of that organism that we are all a part of.

But before we try to deal with seemingly impossible tasks perhaps it would make it easier for us to start with a simple technical task the only difficulty of performing which is simply remembering!

I divide this task into two:
On the vertical plane
we can learn to notice and experience the experience of physical existence. Meaning to sense the body’s weight pushing off the earth,
to apply slight pressure to the ground and to feel it pushing back – to sense the flow of our weight upwards because of that pressure!
– This small action reminds us of the physical existence! So it reminds us who we are!

On the horizontal plane we can notice the movement of the ribs – the slight movement upwards and back of the breastbone that expands the ribs forward and sideways – the body as if growing and expanding outwards and then shrinking back to its previous size.

This small movement of the ribs is the movement that expresses the fact that we are alive. And when I sense my own existence I also sense that I love existing!

This small movement of the ribs is the movement that expresses breathing – communion of the external and internal a communion that in fact sustains us! And it is an expression of love – open channels in and out!

Remembering the physical existence and paying attention to the love that is expressed in the breathing movement, are such simple and primal acts that we can do, and they remind us what really matters,
But what will remind us to do these two little actions with attention?

This is where I turn to you with a question and I welcome answers and comments:
What reminds you to pay attention to the physical existence and the fact that you are alive?

Avi.

Translated by Guy MalbeC

 

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The Model of Correct Movement According to Dr. Ida Rolf (Rolfing)

The Center Point
It is interesting to see how in this model movement begins from the body’s center, irrespective of whether we are walking, raising our arms or any other movement, it’s always supposed to start from the center!

The movement that is supposed to happen at the center is almost always the same – motion that maintains the lower/middle back in the rear space of the body, as opposed to the common habit of allowing that region to move forward thus pushing the mid region of the body to the front space and the front region to the space beyond the front space of the body.

This type of movement maintains the existence of front, middle and rear, and only from this condition does movement begin – any movement.

Walking Correctly
We shall focus on walking since that is where the special function of the mid-muscle – the Iliopsoas –manifests fully.

The existence of this muscle in the center of our physical structure and it being the only one to connect legs to spine, makes it the muscle most directly manifesting the preservation of the inner space and the possible way in which we can act without loosing that space.

The correct way to walk according to the model developed by Dr. Rolf (PhD. in Physics and Biochemistry) starts with an elongation of the waist vertebrae region with a backwards motion orientation.

At the same time the Iliopsoas muscle which connects these vertebrae to the thigh (in the upper-inner side), acts to move the knee forward – thus walking begins!

This model differs from what is common, in that absent the correct orientation of the Psoas muscle, it is possible that instead of an elongation of the waist vertebrae a compression may happen, and the knee will be moved to motion by the strong and large Quadriceps.

The disadvantage of such movement is firstly in the compression in stead of elongation and thus pressure on the discs – which causes problems, and secondly, an incorrect use of the mid-muscle causes us to loose, or simply not be present at, our center.

When we are not centered we act rather reactively and automatically, a sense of who I am is lacking, and the choice of what constitutes my inner reaction, which is a manifestation of my self-essence is also lacking. The inner reaction is opposed to the automatic reaction which is an expression of one’s habits, abilities, and the automation without the presence of self essence.

The Supporting Factor
For the correct way of walking according to Rolf to be easily accomplished, the action of the foot must be mentioned as the factor which completes and enables the stride.

The foot’s main action according to this model is to push the floor backwards!

In the incorrect model this pushing almost, or completely, doesn’t exist and is indeed unnecessary as the powerful Quadriceps (which connects the sheen/knee to the hip on the front side) is so strong, that it easily lifts the thigh up (instead of the knee moving forward it is raised upwards), and places it down again on the floor and so on and so forth. This is a classic example of external action that bears no connection to the inner workings that also has low physical efficiency – that is high energy wastage!

In contrast when the foot pushes the floor backwards, this pushing allows us to maintain the waist vertebrae’s “rearness”, prevents their compression and allows for their elongation and is what awakens the Iliopsoas to work correctly – that is, while the waist vertebrae stay behind the contraction of the Psoas moves the knee forward!

The foot’s action in pushing the floor backwards allows for the correct working of the Psoas as well as supports it by the leverage it creates.

The sensation of such movement is like the knee flying forward of its own volition since we lack any clear sensation of the internal workings of the muscle that creates it – the Iliopsoas Muscle.

Physical Efficiency
In this model physical efficiency reaches its highest point since it wastes no energy. It lacks any upwards movement of raising the leg, only moving it forward thus maximizing the use of foot action.

The Feeling Walking According to This Model Creates
The feeling a person walking in this way has, is of effortless walking – a stride that is flowing and has a sensation of clear and pleasant connection from head to toe.

There is clarity in the center region – the waist, it has clarity of front, center and rear, so that from there on and all the way up to the head a sensation that the structure and mainly the head, are supported by the center and does not need to be forcefully supported by the power of the neck’s rear muscles.

Additional Points
Certain important additional points come with this model but they are relatively ancillary to it.

I shall point one of them out; the fact that the legs are parallel and movement of the knees along the planes which divide the legs.

In the same way that we wouldn’t conceive the wheels of our car pointing inwards or outwards, so our feet, especially when they are properly fulfilling their function of pushing the floor backwards, should not be pointing inwards or outwards. It is a fact of life that this is actually the situation for a large majority of us, but, it is part of what harms physical efficiency!

In order for the knee to be able to receive and transfer the earth’s support which is passed on to it via the foot, it is obvious that it must be always above the foot and not sideways from it. That is why the definition of the plane in which the knee moves is always on the plane which divides the leg to left and right.

Application
The definition of physical efficiency according to Dr. Rolf is nothing more than pure physics, the problem is applying it! This model works easily and almost of its own accord in people who have undergone the series of treatment she developed (Rolfing), which balances the structure,
however, the model can inspire anyone, (even someone who hasn’t yet been treated), in the right direction, and with the aid of a series of special exercises the model can be closely approximated!

The Author, Avi Bahat, is a Touch and Movement and Rolfing Therapist and has created a step by step DVD to instruct correct posture.

Translated by Guy Malbec guymalbec@gmail.com

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Neck pain – Tips for Prevention and Treatment

In this post I will mainly address neck pain that is related to sitting in front of the computer to write/read for long periods of time (though the following tips also apply to people who don’t spend hours in front of the computer).

There are two issues that need to be addressed relating to posture and the spine in general, and to neck pain in particular.

The first is about sitting and it involves letting go, and I already talked about it in my first post. In other words, the first step is to let go of any unnecessary stress in the neck area.

The first tip is about learning how to let go of any unnecessary stress in the neck area:

Our brains have to identify support in order to let go and release excessive muscular activity. On one hand it’s a requirement for this to work and nothing will happen if this requirement is not met. On the other hand, if this requirement is met, the release is instantaneous, which is good news because it’s all we have to do.

When we’re seated, the source of support for the neck is the chair that is transferring the support of the earth. If we let our neck and head seek the sensation that occurs when they are supported by the chair, the head will immediately recognize tension in the neck that stems from the fact that the head is not right above the neck and is not extended from the spine (which is fully supported by the chair). Instead, the head is leaning forwards, which means that its only support is the rear neck muscles – they are holding it from falling forward and downward!

When looking for the supporting element – the chair – the head will move backwards and position itself above the spine (which will also straighten to recognize the support coming from the chair). Try it for yourselves and see, and feel free to post any questions in the blog comments area.

The second tip:I also mentioned the subject of my second tip in the first post. I am referring to livelihood – the level of energy – which is pretty much the opposite of letting go. I’m referring to exercises and activities that prevent the downward sagging of the body; exercises that lengthen the neck and create release using specific movements.

There are two organs that can influence the release of the neck when actuated using the right triggers – the eyes and the tongue. But before I get to those, I will give you the ultimate trigger to do with typing on a computer keyboard. This exercise is called upper lip to nose. If you really want to understand the exercises you should watch the previous and the following clip (they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video removes all doubt…)

Summary and exercises:1. Identify the support: identify the point of contact you have with the chair – the chair is transferring the earth’s support to your body. Recognizing this support generates instantaneous release. Let the head receive that support as well and let it organize itself over your sitting bone.

2. Use the upper lip to nose exercise.

3. Move tongue from side to side.

4. Long, narrow tongue.

5. As a pause: put your palms on your eyes for a few minutes.

6. Try the exercise where you cross your eyes and the head if you need to release neck blockages.

You can find more exercises for proper sitting and posture to prevent pain in my first blog posts and on my website.

You’re welcomed to send me your questions and I will incorporate the answers into the next update.

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How to sit and stand up

Since many of my readers and clients are interested in lower back and general back pain prevention, I thought I would address in this post the first topic I usually bring up with clients who have lower back issues, upper back issues, or both.

I address this topic either at the beginning or at the end of the session, where I talk about preventing a deterioration of back pain due to improper usage of the body. One of the first issues in this topic is the proper way to sit that would prevent a deterioration or reoccurrence of back pain.

Even though most of us sit, stand, or walk for long periods of time, we are lacking basic knowledge about these topics. This is not surprising, though – these topics are not taught at school, so parents who never really learned about it don’t pass the knowledge to their children.

So in this post I will focus on how to sit properly to avoid back pain.

The most important rule in my opinion is that when a long period of sitting is concerned, there isn’t just one way of sitting that is correct. Even if you are sitting in a very proper manner you have to change positions otherwise you will cause pressure on the system.

The second most important rule is to incorporate movement into your sitting! Inject some liveliness into stagnation.

And the third most important rule is to know where the support is coming from, know your physical center, and know how to utilize this support through that center.

It’s easiest to explain these concepts through an example, so I prepared a short video that explains the three rules, starting with the last one.
You are invited to watch the video and give me your feedback – you can write, ask questions, or ask that I address anything to do with back pain, sitting properly, proper posture, etc.

For private questions press here.

You are also invited to read more in my official site here.

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Pregnancy-related back pain – integrated treatments

Pregnancy-related back pain is preventable, and can be lessened for those who already suffer from it.

I’m specifically talking about back pain that occurs after the mid point of the pregnancy – when the belly becomes an influencing factor in posture. Women who didn’t have proper posture before the pregnancy might have pain because of the pressure that the forward pull of the belly creates on the lower back.

You don’t need to be lying down on your stomach to treat the back

In fact, the deepest and most effective back treatment is done while lying on your side, regardless of whether you are pregnant.

lower back treatment

lower back treatment

It is possible to gently release shortened muscles in the lower back – the Latisimmus Dorsi and the Teres Major which tends to get shortened a lot. Releasing these muscle shortenings gives the back more room, which significantly reduces pressure and pain.

It’s also highly recommended for pregnant women to practice a few Paula Method exercises

The Paula Method brings us back to natural movement patterns that took a wrong turn with the way we were brought up, and our culture’s conventions. It’s a good idea to reconnect with this kind of movement before childbirth, get some practice with it, and learn how to give it ‘permission’. Your muscles and your breathing will be in better sync, and your body will know how to function in a positive and supportive way, and not in a self destructive way.

Paula Method exercises are more like triggers, not exercises – they stimulate the rest of the body to function naturally.

When you use this stimulus at different spots (eyes, lips, palms, etc) you awaken the entire system and quicken the body’s ability to get in sync. When our body is in sync, the quality of our movements improves – the body works effortlessly and doesn’t want to rest, the movement becomes a natural therapeutic tool and a fun activity.

This is a promise of the Paula Method that you might have to take my word on at the beginning of the treatments – a time in which overcoming blockages might seem a bit difficult.

Another thing to remember when things seem difficult at the beginning is that there are several paths towards natural movement, and it’s always possible to try a different one when you’re struggling.

Women who learn how to use the Paula Method get great assistance from their body during childbirth. The body has experience in following its intuition, in doing what’s right for it, and being attuned to what it needs, which makes childbirth easier and quicker.

The period after childbirth is just as important. Women who get enough practice with the method before childbirth will be able to get back to doing the exercises relatively quickly, which will strengthen their front sphincter and the pelvic floor muscles, and will help in the way their body arranges itself for carrying the baby and for breast feeding – making both easier with less pain in the back, hands, and shoulders.

All right – this is it about back pain, pregnancy, touch therapy, and the Paula Method for pregnancy and for after childbirth.

I wish you all the best with your pregnancy.

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