Powerful, flexible shape models of anatomical structures are required for robust, automatic analysis of medical images. In this paper we investigate a physics-based shape representation and deformation method in an effort to meet these requirements. Using a medial-based spring-mass mesh model, shape deformations are produced via the application of external forces or internal spring actuation. The range of deformations includes bulging, stretching, bending, and tapering at different locations, scales, and with varying amplitudes. Springs are actuated either by applying deformation operators or by activating statistical modes of variation obtained via a hierarchical regional principal component analysis. We demonstrate results on both synthetic data and on a spring-mass model of the corpus callosum, obtained from 2D mid-sagittal brain Magnetic Resonance (MR) Images.