Move with Soft Tissue / Internal Generosity

When you extend and flex the elbow joint, how do you picture the movement internally? Do the bones move and drag the soft tissue along? Or does the soft tissue move and use bones as spacers?

The more useful answer is that the soft tissue moves. Muscles move bones. If you picture soft tissue doing the movement, you are less likely to develop joint restrictions. Joints will feel more flexible.

With good soft-tissue movement, it feels like a bony joint disappears. With attention on the soft tissue, movement flows easily through the joint. The joint capsule enjoys plenty of space. Bones are not crammed together. Instead, the bones seem to float within the soft tissue.

Practitioners of structural integration label this as “internal generosity”. Bones have plenty of space, and don’t get in each other’s way. Joints are bony articulations that work best when not crammed together. In fact, it is space that allows the joint to function. Conditions such as bursitis or tennis elbow reflect compressed joints. They are painful and restricting.

Perspective matters. Joints move under the brain’s control, and movement reflects the brain’s understanding. A hypothesis is that healing requires a change in the brain’s perception. So, if the brain registers “soft tissue” instead of “bone”, the image is softness instead of hardness.

Moved properly, joints seem to disappear. Movement flows through joint capsules through like a water wave. The joint space is generous.

Tight (or painful) lower backs are excellent candidates for internal generosity improvement. Without getting technical, here’s how it works. The low back vertebrae are designed to side bend and rotate in the opposite direction. If that can’t happen, the back is restricted. It feels like there is no room to move. The back feels “stuck”. Low back problems can often be that simple.

High performance athletes also do better by understanding internal generosity. Anything that frees joints is helpful. A runner might run faster and longer because movements don’t conflict. A martial arts expert could kick faster with more power when joint coordination is generous.

Whether your goal is less pain or better performance, move with the soft tissue. More capability and less pain await.

Many movement practices are available to you and have excellent performance records. Maintaining the right internal imagery allows the best outcome, regardless of the practice you choose.


Jack Menear