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The Importance of your Model - the Boneman videos

We always have a 'model' of how something works, and then we use that model to solve problems or understand them. We can't get away from that, that's a fundamental human approach - what do we know or understand about something already, how can that help us with what we are doing now?

So, if you have a pain, and you think that pain comes from a lack of muscle strength then you would look to add more strength. Or if you think that pain means danger/damage, you would stop producing the movement that causes the pain. And we tend to have rather poor or simplistic ideas about our bodies. Bodies are complex and they use more than one resource all the time - and thinking only about one resource or approach will greatly limit the possibility of getting real comfort and effective movement.

In particular, we can get greatly impacted by seeing skeletons which have no soft tissue or organs inside. We see skeletons everywhere - doctors/physio offices, at Halloween, moving in mysterious ways in cartoons or Pirates of the Caribbean. But I think that this can end up unhelpfully focussing too much on dry, plastic bones in how we try and model ourselves in our minds.

Rolfers work hard and long to continuously improve their model of how bodies work in gravity, and we seek to give you a better model of yourself. We include the sheer weight of bits of you as a key part of the solution to helping you get better movement overall. We can see the need to have balance - for instance one arm hangs off one side of the body, and the other hangs off the other side. So they can balance each other very well through the tissues and need no real effort in to hold them up, but most people do add unnecessary 'pulling' which tends to pull into their necks, which leads to lack of mobility in the neck and head.

One important factor to help see ourselves more accurately as a system is by bringing in the soft tissues - major elements of these include organs (brain, liver, kidneys) which need to be held in place and the tensile, structural system which holds those organs in place and moves them around. The main structural element of that entire body - if you look at it by type of protein building blocks - is collagen (30% of body weight by dry weight)*. That is not material which is active cells, but is the material which is made by collagen-producing cells to create the strong stuff that holds us together. That web of material is a huge and essential resource to help us move. It is the material which holds together the soft, long muscle cells and allows their contraction to move other bits of the body closer together. Without that web, we go nowhere. So we should learn to use it effectively and elegantly. And move in a way which helps it stay in top condition. The way you move and use that web of collagen impacts how it is laid down and how it is organised, both of which have profound impacts on how it can allow movement and transmit force safely.

Over the Christmas break I was looking again at a wonderful product - a traditional skeleton which has some added 'soft' connections which can help us understand the way the soft tissue connects the bone/stiff parts of the body together. That is a skeleton with elastic links which represent the major muscle groups, and can moved to show how these interact. So if you want to change your model of the body, have a look at, where there has been a real attempt to show why locking down, especially in the 'core' and not letting things move would not be a good solution. Core is not about strength alone - it is about how we coordinate and time our movement from the centre out, so that we keep ourselves safe and undamaged by the load we put on our structure.

Link to one of Boneman's videos here -

Others are available on their website, or youtube.

*Deshmukh SN, Dive AM, Moharil R, Munde P. Enigmatic insight into collagen. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2016 May-Aug;20(2):276-83. doi: 10.4103/0973-029X.185932. PMID: 27601823; PMCID: PMC4989561. National Library of Medicine.

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