Restoration Physical Therapy
Photo representing Structure Rules Function:  Looking at the whole before treating the part.

Structure Rules Function: Looking at the whole before treating the part.

Have you heard the phrase, “structure rules function?”

While at a continuing education seminar, the instructor explained this premise in relationship to the human body. The body functions best when it is in proper alignment and each part is doing the job it was created to do.

Structure Rules Function

An example of this principle is the collapse of the
 I-5 bridge over the Skagit River. Part of the bridge fell into the river after a semi-truck pulling an oversized load damaged the supportive struts. In this fracture of critical design, a single essential part was overloaded. This triggered a chain reaction of other parts resulting in the entire bridge span to collapse. This important part of the Washington state highway north-south corridor no longer functioned as it had for 58 years. Thankfully no lives were lost in this terrible catastrophe.

Load greater than Capacity = Injury

Sometimes we play too hard or start a new exercise regime without forethought of whether our body is aligned and ready to tackle the demands of the new activity. If the load is greater than the capacity, it results in injury. One joint or another will send out pain symptoms that beckons our attention.

Examples

One example is the young barista who uses her wrists and hands in a repetitive twisting manner as she makes each espresso drink as quickly as possible. Several months later she notices she can no longer bear weight on her hands and often has pain in her wrists.

Another example is the office worker who sits at his desk 40 hours per week typing on his keyboard. It’s time to finally go on his vacation and as he lifts his heavy suitcase, he feels a painful twinge in his shoulder that does not go away.

Looking at the Whole, Not Just the Part

When treating an upper extremity condition such as supraspinatus tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, frozen shoulder or even carpal tunnel syndrome, one should begin by looking at alignment of the whole body and not just the part that hurts. The focus should always begin with attention to aligning the ribcage over the pelvis, then the shoulder girdle, and then the position of the head on top of the ribcage. The supportive structure of the ribcage sets the stage for proper functioning of the arm as it dangles from its connection with the scapula.

Alignment of the Ribcage is Important for Proper Shoulder Function

The scapula basically floats on top of the ribcage so the relationship of the ribcage to the pelvis below is extremely important. The spine in the back and the sternum in the front sets the platform for where the scapula rests on the back of the ribcage and the clavicle’s position in the front.
yokeAnother way to explain this is by thinking in terms of a yoke. Remember learning in history class about when milk or water was carried with a milkmaid’s yoke?. One needed to stand with excellent posture to balance the contents of the buckets. The long and level yoke facilitated carrying the heavy load with great ease.


The scapula and the clavicle create the yoke of the shoulder girdle.ribcage and scapulaThe long bone of the arm, the humerus, hangs from the end of the yoke. When the yoke is level and broad, the arms hang free and the shoulder can easily move in its full range of motion.

Tensegrity

So why the anatomy lesson and what does it have to do with a bridge collapse? Our skeleton is best described as a structure with tensegrity. A delicate balance of tensional and compressional forces holds it together. The bones are essentially spacers that maintain the proper relationship between body structures. Remove the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia and the skeleton would fall to the floor. Tensegrity_Icosahedron

An old injury, muscles that are too tight or too weak, or poor posture all contribute to the loss of tensegrity balance and often result in sports-related injuries, wear and tear joint conditions or chronic pain syndromes. The bridge would have remained intact if all the parts were doing their function, but that particular insult to the bridge’s strut resulted in the rest of the parts giving way. The supports were no longer able to carry the load.

Treating just the joint involved will not yield lasting results if one does not consider what is going on with the rest of the body. Don’t be surprised if you come in with a shoulder pain and your therapist addresses a tight hamstring or a fallen arch in your foot. In fact, maybe think twice if your therapist only looks at one joint during your treatment session. Remember your body is a tensegrity structure that needs to be assessed from head to toe.

Mindfulness, Prevention, A Whole Body Approach

Looking at this issue before you have structural breakdowns is ideal. The body gives plenty of warning signals way before any major collapse in the system. Being mindful of the little aches or twinges is key to keeping the body in balance. Why wait until you start having severe pain in your shoulder, elbow or hand?

Remember the adage of “structure rules function.” If something is not working well, a look at the structure is needed to deal with the problem before there is a total breakdown. By improving the alignment and strength of your body structure and being mindful not to exceed the maximum load, you will prevent injury and breakdown.

Load > Capacity = Injury or Breakdown

Capacity > Load = Prevention

To learn more about how to balance the body with Bowenwork, click here….

To learn more about how to use Yamuna® Body Rolling to bring alignment to your body, click here…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:29-30

Categories: Bowenwork, Holistic Medicine, Pain, Physical Therapy, Posture, Shoulder Pain, Yamuna Body Rolling
Post by Mary Falk PT on June 10, 2013

Structure Rules Function: Looking at the whole before treating the part.

Have you heard the phrase, “structure rules function?”

While at a continuing education seminar, the instructor explained this premise in relationship to the human body. The body functions best when it is in proper alignment and each part is doing the job it was created to do.

Structure Rules Function

An example of this principle is the collapse of the
 I-5 bridge over the Skagit River. Part of the bridge fell into the river after a semi-truck pulling an oversized load damaged the supportive struts. In this fracture of critical design, a single essential part was overloaded. This triggered a chain reaction of other parts resulting in the entire bridge span to collapse. This important part of the Washington state highway north-south corridor no longer functioned as it had for 58 years. Thankfully no lives were lost in this terrible catastrophe.

Load greater than Capacity = Injury

Sometimes we play too hard or start a new exercise regime without forethought of whether our body is aligned and ready to tackle the demands of the new activity. If the load is greater than the capacity, it results in injury. One joint or another will send out pain symptoms that beckons our attention.

Examples

One example is the young barista who uses her wrists and hands in a repetitive twisting manner as she makes each espresso drink as quickly as possible. Several months later she notices she can no longer bear weight on her hands and often has pain in her wrists.

Another example is the office worker who sits at his desk 40 hours per week typing on his keyboard. It’s time to finally go on his vacation and as he lifts his heavy suitcase, he feels a painful twinge in his shoulder that does not go away.

Looking at the Whole, Not Just the Part

When treating an upper extremity condition such as supraspinatus tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, frozen shoulder or even carpal tunnel syndrome, one should begin by looking at alignment of the whole body and not just the part that hurts. The focus should always begin with attention to aligning the ribcage over the pelvis, then the shoulder girdle, and then the position of the head on top of the ribcage. The supportive structure of the ribcage sets the stage for proper functioning of the arm as it dangles from its connection with the scapula.

Alignment of the Ribcage is Important for Proper Shoulder Function

The scapula basically floats on top of the ribcage so the relationship of the ribcage to the pelvis below is extremely important. The spine in the back and the sternum in the front sets the platform for where the scapula rests on the back of the ribcage and the clavicle’s position in the front.
yokeAnother way to explain this is by thinking in terms of a yoke. Remember learning in history class about when milk or water was carried with a milkmaid’s yoke?. One needed to stand with excellent posture to balance the contents of the buckets. The long and level yoke facilitated carrying the heavy load with great ease.


The scapula and the clavicle create the yoke of the shoulder girdle.ribcage and scapulaThe long bone of the arm, the humerus, hangs from the end of the yoke. When the yoke is level and broad, the arms hang free and the shoulder can easily move in its full range of motion.

Tensegrity

So why the anatomy lesson and what does it have to do with a bridge collapse? Our skeleton is best described as a structure with tensegrity. A delicate balance of tensional and compressional forces holds it together. The bones are essentially spacers that maintain the proper relationship between body structures. Remove the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia and the skeleton would fall to the floor. Tensegrity_Icosahedron

An old injury, muscles that are too tight or too weak, or poor posture all contribute to the loss of tensegrity balance and often result in sports-related injuries, wear and tear joint conditions or chronic pain syndromes. The bridge would have remained intact if all the parts were doing their function, but that particular insult to the bridge’s strut resulted in the rest of the parts giving way. The supports were no longer able to carry the load.

Treating just the joint involved will not yield lasting results if one does not consider what is going on with the rest of the body. Don’t be surprised if you come in with a shoulder pain and your therapist addresses a tight hamstring or a fallen arch in your foot. In fact, maybe think twice if your therapist only looks at one joint during your treatment session. Remember your body is a tensegrity structure that needs to be assessed from head to toe.

Mindfulness, Prevention, A Whole Body Approach

Looking at this issue before you have structural breakdowns is ideal. The body gives plenty of warning signals way before any major collapse in the system. Being mindful of the little aches or twinges is key to keeping the body in balance. Why wait until you start having severe pain in your shoulder, elbow or hand?

Remember the adage of “structure rules function.” If something is not working well, a look at the structure is needed to deal with the problem before there is a total breakdown. By improving the alignment and strength of your body structure and being mindful not to exceed the maximum load, you will prevent injury and breakdown.

Load > Capacity = Injury or Breakdown

Capacity > Load = Prevention

To learn more about how to balance the body with Bowenwork, click here….

To learn more about how to use Yamuna® Body Rolling to bring alignment to your body, click here…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:29-30

Categories: Bowenwork, Holistic Medicine, Pain, Physical Therapy, Posture, Shoulder Pain, Yamuna Body Rolling

Post by Mary Falk PT on June 10, 2013

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The body functions best when it is in proper alignment and each part is doing the job it was created to do.

2 Responses to Structure Rules Function: Looking at the whole before treating the part.

  1. This is a terrific article. I am a believer in whole body concept. Your analogy about the bridge collapsing was very insightful. It’s sometimes difficult as a massage therapist to convince clients that one area of the body can have an effect on other areas. Out of balance, that’s what it is. A co-worker has a tensegrity model that he shares with his clients when he explains his treatments. It is a great visual aid. I will be sure to share this article with others. Great job, Mary.