Biotensegrity and myofascial chains: A global approach to an integrated kinetic chain

S. L. Dischiavi, A. A. Wright, E. J. Hegedus, C. M. Bleakley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Human movement is a complex orchestration of events involving many different body systems. Understanding how these systems interact during musculoskeletal movements can directly inform a variety of research fields including: injury etiology, injury prevention and therapeutic exercise prescription. Traditionally scientists have examined human movement through a reductionist lens whereby movements are broken down and observed in isolation. The process of reductionism fails to capture the interconnected complexities and the dynamic interactions found within complex systems such as human movement. An emerging idea is that human movement may be better understood using a holistic philosophy. In this regard, the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its components alone, rather, it is the complexity of the system as a whole, that determines how the individual component parts behave. This paper hypothesizes that human movement can be better understood through holism; and provides available observational evidence in musculoskeletal science, which help to frame human movement as a globally interconnected complex system. Central to this, is biotensegrity, a concept where the bones of the skeletal system are postulated to be held together by the resting muscle tone of numerous viscoelastic muscular chains in a tension dependent manner. The design of a biotensegrity system suggests that when human movement occurs, the entire musculoskeletal system constantly adjusts during this movement causing global patterns to occur. This idea further supported by recent anatomical evidence suggesting that the muscles of the human body can no longer by viewed as independent anatomical structures that simply connect one bone to another bone. Rather, the body consists of numerous muscles connected in series, and end to end, which span the entire musculoskeletal system, creating long polyarticular viscoelastic myofascial muscle chains. Although theoretical, the concept of the human body being connected by these muscular chains, within a biotensegrity design, could be a potential underpinning theory for analyzing human movement in a more holistic manner. Indeed, preliminary research has now used the concept of myofascial pathways to enhance musculoskeletal examination, and provides a vivid example of how range of motion at a peripheral joint, is dependent upon the positioning of the entire body, offering supportive evidence that the body's kinetic chain is globally interconnected. Theoretical models that introduce a complex systems approach should be welcomed by the movement science field in an attempt to help explain clinical questions that have been resistant to a linear model.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)90-96
    Number of pages7
    JournalMedical Hypotheses
    Early online date20 Nov 2017
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2018


    • Biotensegrity
    • Dynamic knee valgus
    • Hip
    • Muscular chains
    • Rehabilitation


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