Myofascial ChainsA Model

As already mentioned in the introduction, we consider muscles, as the organ of myofascial chains, to play an important role in all bodily functions. Also, while their main function centers on locomotion and maintaining equilibrium, we should not disregard their contribution to other vital functions. Thus, they are important for respiration, digestion, and circulation. Their significance becomes obvious in the case of dysfunctions, and when Still states that the fasciae are where we must look for the source of diseases and also where we should initiate treatment, this only emphasizes their significance.140

The myofascial tissue belongs to the connective tissue and contains the subcutaneous and deep fasciae, as well as the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Schultz and Feitis refer to the fascial system as an endless network that connects everything with everything.132

The fascial connections are arranged not coinciden-tally or anarchically, but functionally. The spinal column plays a special role here. It serves as anchor for practically all fascial connections, similar to a ship's mast to which the ropes are tied. The ropes stabilize the mast, but the mast holds the sails. As long as the ropes are taut and the mast is anchored solidly, the sails function. Our trunk consists of a number of fascial planes that are connected to the spinal column and balance each other out.

We can distinguish between three ventral and three dorsal (muscle) fascial planes on the trunk:

• An outer plane with the latissimus dorsi and trapezius in the back and the pectoralis muscles and ser-ratus anterior in front. These are muscles whose main task consists of mobilizing the arms.

• The middle layer consists of the paravertebral muscles and both serratus posterior muscles in the back, and the longus colli, intercostal muscles, abdominal muscles, and psoas ventrally. These muscles directly affect the spinal column (even though the intercostal and abdominal muscles use the ribs as levers).

• The deep layer consists of fascial structures: dorsally the nuchal ligament and ligamentous apparatus of the vertebral arches, and ventrally the central tendon with the serosae of the organs.

The three ventral and three dorsal myofascial layers are able to balance out the spinal column (the mast). In the case of hypertonicity on one side, the other side gives a little. As a result, the mast stands a little askew, but is still stable. This reflects the interplay of agonist and antagonist. The same model can be applied in the frontal plane. The myofascial structures of one side must adjust to the tensions on the other side to stabilize the spinal column.

We are convinced that when the equilibrium is concerned, especially when a position has to be maintained for a longer time, the organism utilizes all available means as economically as possible and thereby affects the other bodily functions as little as possible. Thoracic respiration and cellular respiration, as well as venolymphatic circulation must all continue to function.

The curvature of the spinal column contributes to its stability. We can therefore assume that the vertebrae act in such a way that they position the spinal column under strain to enable the physiological curves to counteract any pressure. In asymmetrical strain (such as weight in one hand), this results in scoliotic posture.

The individual spinal column segments herein move around Littlejohn's pivotal vertebrae (see Chapter 5, pp. 62ff). The pivotal vertebrae can sometimes be a segment higher or lower. As a rule, however, they are C2, C5,T4,T9, L3, and L5/S1.

The muscles need solid support to be able to execute their tasks optimally. This is provided by other muscles. This leads to the formation of muscle chains. When standing, the feet are the fixed point for the muscle chains. They are therefore of particular significance in posture.

A further factor that contributes to stability but also facilitates harmonious movements in all planes is the arrangement of muscles in the shape of lemniscates. According to Wahrig. a lemniscate is "an arrangement in the shape of a figure eight on its side." In fact, all muscles with the exception of the rectus abdominis run along a more or less diagonal or swinging course. The muscles follow in chains in such a way that they form loops that pass harmoniously from one plane to the other (Fig. 8.1).

Fig 8.1 Motor units.

Littlejohn's pivots and the joints in the extremities are located more or less exactly on the crossings of lemniscates or in the center of loops. Here we can see that Littlejohn's model is not only structural but also functional.

The arrangement of the muscles in lemniscates facilitates a very energy-efficient execution of smooth movements in all planes. It becomes possible to convert potential energy into kinetic energy. Thereby, the effect of a spiral or spring is obtained (see the gait study in Chapter 3, p. 39). An additional advantage is the fact that pressure on the vessels, thorax, and abdomen is reduced.

Note: The greater the load that we must transport, the greater our muscular exertion becomes because we can no longer utilize the momentum of the movement. At the same time, this increases the strain on the joints, respiration, and circulation. Muscle contractions and joint blockages have the same effect.

Fig 8.1 Motor units.

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