Fascial Re-Alignment of the Anatomy Trains via Low Load Muscle Exercise Part 1

By guest author: Paula Nutting BHSc MST, Musculoskeletal Specialist

Tom Myers went to exhaustive lengths to establish the links or lines of the fascial system and how they are so important in functional mobility of the musculo-skeletal system. Stripping cadavers of all but their unique fascial systems he has hypothesized that there are 7 major lines or anatomy trains as he has coined them.

The smooth and fluid movement of the body is founded upon these lines working both dependently and interdependently with each other; both as single units but as a shared fascial web which propels us forward, backward, twisting turning in all planes. It has become evident that when the fascial tensegrity of the body becomes imbalanced then the musculo-skeletal system, nervous system, and in fact our homoeostasis is compromised. Joints altered in normal arthrokinematics leading to denegation at their articulating surfaces, tendinosis through added strain to the attachment points, ligamentous micro-stress leading to predisposition to sprains and tears. The altered body alignment though minute still alters the normal positions of the vertebral column and the normal afferent and efferent signaling of the nerve roots upon entrance of sensory and exit of motor information. This leads to altered signals to the muscle, joints, skin and to the viscera on a global scale.

At the 1st International Fascia Research Congress, 2007, held at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, fascia was discussed at length in the forms of abstracts, expanded abstracts, plenary’s and original papers. Fascia and its involvement in force transmission from one tissue to another, having major implications in explaining how the body functions, and how manual methods can be used to influence distant tissues (Stecco et al., 2008); mechanical forces, including those associated with manual treatment, influence cells and molecules via mechano-transduction, producing changes in intracellular biochemistry and gene expression (Ingber, 2008; Wipff and Hinz, 2008) were some of the many profound realizations discovered.

Josef DellaGrotte put forth a paper on postural involvement using core integration to lengthen myofascia. “Summary. Postural organization is controlled by the central nervous system in conjunction with the skeletal, muscular, and fascial systems”. This paper explores the effects on static and dynamic postural misalignment and treatment via neuromotor re-education intervention. DellaGrotte hypothesizes six core-integration pathways or vectors of force which use the principles of functional movement used by pioneers such as Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais and Tom Myers. The six pathways are based on common planes of movement (up-down, Sagittal, rotational and lateral movement), these pathways are defined by the following criteria:

  • It contains a vector of force, direction, and myofascial tensegrity.
  • It passes through the centre of gravity and represents the most efficient expenditure of energy.
  • It has specific anatomical features, and can be ‘tracked’ through specific joint angles, actions of levers, muscle chains, and fascial tensile spread.
  • It requires lengthening by virtue of mechanical levering and the physiology of myofascial actions.
  • Muscles in the sequential contracting-lengthening phase stimulate tensile fascial spread.”

DellaGrotte states that the core movement pathways are instinctive as well as a learned neuro-program grounded in the CNS response to gravitational forces in order to carry out intentional action effectively. “The brain and CNS have been described by several neurologists as a ‘mapping’ system, constantly tracking itself, reading all sensory-afferent information and responding appropriately (Berthos, 1997)”. DellaGrotte has designed a map of how the CNS can track and facilitate every movement through the 6 primary core pathways, secondary pathways and their sectional body components. These can also align with Myers 7 trains and as they both allude, it is the identification of the path, assessing movement and posture, tracking how movement is transmitted and determining through client response whether CNS takes on and adopts the data. “The application is, in clinical context, an educative-therapeutic improvement” (DellaGrotte).

Both Myers and DellaGrotte conclude that each line has a specific role within the body and when in correct function minimizes stresses and damage which include secondary pain syndromes associated with stresses and strains on bones, joints, muscles and fascia. The interaction of neuromotor myofascial pathways sustains the body in the configurations of posture and functional movement tensegrity. The fascia attaches and continues along its continuous train via the body stations (somatic markers), when looking at these markers it is easy to understand how complaints of pain are noted at any of these attachment sites.

The lateral line or basic lateral path can and often does cause stress and pain of the neck with headaches, lateral rib and lumbar discomfort, lateral leg and medial knee conditions created from the medial distraction. DellaGrotte describes this path as the earliest evolutionary developmental movement and imbalance leads to stiffening of the myofascia, log-jamming myofascial tissues and compression of the discs. Compression of the Lumbar facets has been noted to cause both Sciatic and Pseudo sciatic pain and in conjunction susceptibility of instability and falls. Myers also suggests that this line begins in the middle of the medial and lateral arches of the foot so it is understandable that the plantar fascia can become compromised creating plantar-fascitis. W Hammer discusses at length in his paper “The effects of mechanical load on degenerated soft tissue” (2008), the related kinetic chain must be addressed when dealing with the plantar fascia and there is often restricted dorsiflexion and fascial restrictions all along the kinetic line.

The functional back line, superficial back line or back path (from a biomechanical and CNS perspective) provides one of the body’s main pillars of support and uplift of the Sagittal plane. These pathways of movement produce flow strengthen the core and all related structures along the back. The vertebral column takes much of the strain through the multifidii and rotatores and therefore pain will often present in the sacrum, lower back, thoracic region and neck. When the pelvic innominants misalign then the cross syndromes will produce cervicogenic headaches, cervical, suboccipital and back pain, shoulder pain and potential rotator cuff imbalances. Shortening of the hamstrings and calves is also noted in these cross syndromes. (Chaitow 2003). The evidence of anterior or posterior ilial rotations, sacral torsions and subsequent leg length changes are a common phenomenon with the functional back line or back path when unilateral cross syndrome is present.

Part 2 coming soon

Musculoskeletal and Remedial massage Therapist Paula Nutting lectures both Nationally in Australia and overseas in Canada. Specialising in musculoskeletal conditions of the body that require remedial massage techniques including neural activation, muscle length and strength and fascial rebalancing. Owning her Brisbane based practice PN Hands On focusing on both acute and chronic conditions. Looking for a Remedial Massage or Musculoskeletal Therapist, expert Paula Nutting specialises in head aches, lower back pain, shoulder or neck issue on a daily basis. For more advise check out her website http://www.yourmusculoskeletalspecialist.com

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