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Low Back Pain and Biotensegrity

The human body is an amazing organism. Like most organic life, a person’s structure follows the principles of biotensegrity, which is the way compressive and tensional forces operate in relationship to form the basis for structures in organic material (Chaitow, 2013). Understanding the principles of biotensegrity, like cells are mechanically stable because of the way their structure and increase in tension in one area of the structure results in increased tension in other areas, is vital in understanding human movement dysfunction (Ingber, 1998). A great example to look that illustrates this well, is the complexities in understanding lower back pain.

Vora, Doerr, and Wolfer (2010) examined the mechanisms that cause lower back pain, and came to the conclusion that several treatment and diagnostic procedures are flawed because they do not take into account the interdependent relationship of the lumbrosacral discs, posterior elements, sacroiliac joints, and the surrounding tissues. Instead of focusing on one small painful section of the back, Vora et al. (2010) insist local lower back pain can be caused by dysfunction in other separate areas of the back. As a fitness professional this is vital information, because many people experience low back pain throughout their life. One of the major goals of working with a person with lower back pain should be to reduce it as much as possible.

Lower back anatomy has no clear delineation of where one structure ends and where a new one begins (Vora et al, 2010). For example, dysfunction of the interspinous-supraspinous-thoracolumbar (IST) complex, which secures the thoracolumbar fascia and multifidus sheath to the facet capsules, will cause pain in all the areas it interacts with (Vora et al.,2010).

In conclusion the human body is best understood with biotensegrity principles. The human body is designed in a way that it shares tension to form a stable structure. Dysfunction in one area will affect a seemingly unrelated area.


Chaitow, L. (2013). Understanding mechanotransduction and biotensegrity from an adaptation perspective. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 17(2), 141-142.

Ingber, D. E. (1998). The Architecture of Life. Retrieved from

Vora, A. J., Doerr, K. D., & Wolfer, L. R. (2010). Functional anatomy and pathophysiology of axial low back pain: Disc, posterior elements, sacroiliac joint, and associated pain generators. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 21(4), 679-70