When we begin to look at the Anatomy Trains throughout the body, it expands our concepts of myofascial anatomy and then our comprehension of posture and movement. By looking carefully at posture we begin to see the compensatory strain patterns that lead to pain syndromes. The Anatomy Trains concept moves beyond mechanical ’cause and effect’ actions of muscles to the integrative relational connections of real-life functional movement.
Some key aspects of this line of thought are:
1) ‘bodyreading’ : There needs to be an understanding of postural and movement patterns with greater accuracy and integration, focusing on every day function.
2) “effective treatment strategies”: There needs to be a keen awareness of what is happening structurally, and what compensations a person is making, which may occur some distance from the site of pain or limitation.
3) “change”: An acceptance and awareness of structural patterns needs to be understood, to enable a person to make distinct changes in structure with a few short moves, stretches and adjustments.
Within the Anatomy Train’s structural system, it is important to:
1) Have a succinct and relevant introduction to the embryology, geometry, and character of the connective tissue and the topology of fascial planes,
2) Have an understanding and comprehension of the 6 major and 6 supplemental fascial meridians.
3) Conceive of the integration of movement, tension, and postural distortion travel, and the inter-related connections of all of our muscles.
3) Have a strategy that outlines resolving postural distortions that lead to limitation and injury.
‘Anatomy Trains’ is a revolutionary way of analyzing soft-tissue patterns, and developing strategies for unwinding these patterns via fascial and myofascial work. The Anatomy Trains scheme offers a language that most hands-on therapists, regardless of their modality, can use to see their clients more clearly, and communicate to colleagues and clients how the neuro-myofascial web is configured by their ‘acture’ (‘posture in action’) This Feldenkrais concept is used to indicate consistent patterns in both stance and movement.
It is important for one to understand that the fascial web is one seamless network. Beginning from the reticular webbing that forms around the second week of embryological development, folded and refolded in the complex origami that turns a bolus of cells into a human being. From this understanding, new insights can begin to form concerning the interaction of nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. Because we began our study of anatomy – back in early Renaissance times – with the knives of the hunter and butcher, we have naturally focused on the structure and function of individual parts. This has led inexorably to modern understanding of muscle function that could be described as the ‘single-muscle theory’. Each muscle is analyzed, in text after text, in terms of its action from origin to insertion. Though occasionally the fixation function of a muscle is included in the description, most often the muscle is defined as if working in isolation on an otherwise denuded skeleton.
In fact, no muscle ever works in isolation. In the body, even the idea that there are individual muscles is misleading. Without pushing this metaphor too far, it is more accurate to say that there are about six hundred pockets of electrical jelly (muscle) suspended within a single overall fascial bag, which in turn surrounds and suspends the skeleton.
The Anatomy Trains define the warp and weft of the myofascial tissue within this network. To define some terms, Anatomy Trains is a system of myofascial meridians. Each Anatomy Train is one myofascial meridian. So, in the simplest terms, the Anatomy Trains system simply shows how the muscles are strung together longitudinally to form a supporting tensile network for the skeleton. What we look for is an even tone along these meridian lines, because isolated areas of high tone and slackness will produce compensatory strain patterns that pull the skeleton out of line and lead to pain.
This train of thought can be advantageous to all manual and movement therapists, from chiropractors, osteopaths, PT’s and massage therapists to yoga teachers and Pilates instructors.
For more information on this work visit the ASIS Massage website or visit KMI