The Cornstarch Effect
Thixotropy and Oobleck

What happens when you mix cornstarch and water? 
1 cup cornstarch  |  3/4 cup water  |  plastic bowl
You get oobleck….magic mud, silly putty, slime.

Making oobleck – a ‘non-Newtonian fluid’ – is a great science and sensory project.
Oobleck acts like a solid and a liquid at the same time, depending on the force introduced to the substance. 

Ooblek is a thixotropic substance, a non-Newtonian fluid.
– Oobleck responds with a slow integrated fluid reaction when stimulated by a slower fluid-like force.
– Oobleck reacts as a solid when a hard, fast force is used and 
responds with a local reaction rather than an integrative reaction. 


Touch, Tissue, and Thixotropy

How does this relate to Osteopathy in the Cranial Field?

The human body, as a biotensegrity structure, requires a slower fluid-like motion
 in order to maintain integrated, functional motion as a unit. 

Forceful and rapid changes in human tissue creates a ‘solid’ reaction with
local restrictions to tissue and motion and a dis-integrated state.
The whole separates into parts and thereby changes the dynamics of ‘biostensegrity’,
which then threatens the balance of the neuromuscular system.

This is called somatic dysfunction
 – a primary cause of pain and neuromuscular dysfunction.

Treatment with a cranial osteopath engages those areas of the body
 that are restricted, hard and compressed,
typically the result of injury, surgery or repetitive usage.
The light palpatory touch and awareness of the skilled practitioner
used to engage these restrictions as a fluid state
 can thereby help to body restore physiological motion.
This allows the whole body (the biotensegrity structure) to re-integrate
 the injured tissue back into the system as a whole,
reinstating a more balanced motion
which leads to better functioning and health.

A June 1, 2019 article by Martin Laike (University of Birmingham, UK) and Kenneth S Campbell (University of Kentucky, Lexington KY) 
investigate the phenomena of thixotropy
 as applied to the human body. 
References to similar articles are included.