Form Follows Function? Or does Function Follow Form? by Peter Roach

by Peter on November 24, 2011

An American architect Louis Sullivan, told us “Form follows Function”. In 1896, he wrote an article The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered. Here Sullivan actually said ‘form ever follows function’, but the simpler (and less emphatic) phrase is the one usually remembered. For Sullivan this was distilled wisdom, an aesthetic credo, the single “rule that shall permit of no exception”. The full quote is thus:

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, Of all things physical and metaphysical, Of all things human and all things super-human, Of all true manifestations of the head, Of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.

I love this law. I think about it often when I treat patients. Why do I look at architecture as a massage therapist? Let me explain.

We can see easily how “Form follows Function” with regards to our bodies. Exercise is a prime example. Let look at a bicep curl with weight. As the bicep is subjected to increased resistance, the weight, the muscle fibers respond by getting bigger. The bigger the weight, the bigger the bicep will get. Thus the form of the bicep changes as a result of the function it is being asked to perform. Therefore, in architecture determining the shape of the building, or the form, results from the function of its interior. This is the same with our body as we can see. So indeed, form follows function.

However I also believe that function follows form, particularly when I’m looking at the body. Consider the 2 images below.

Look around you. How many people do you see who have a posture such as the person on the right? And consider their symptoms. Do they have digestive problems, poor bowel movement, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations. If our posture is collapsed, consider the organs within. Do you really expect a diaphragm, lungs, or our liver to function properly if their space is being crushed? In this case the function of tissue is influenced by the form, our posture. Indeed the reverse is true, Function follows Form.

Neuromuscular Therapy looks at both. By assessing your posture, your gait and the muscle tone surrounding we can determine the best approach to resolving your pain and discomfort. As with architecture we are built in a structural form, containing levers and pulleys. And within our body we have rooms in which our organs are housed. By taking rules from the architectural world and applying it to our body, we can help restore your proper structure. And once again you will be standing tall!

So remember,

Form follows function and function follows form.

As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

In Health,

Peter Roach, RMT, CNMT, Laser Therapist

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