Today there are so many healthcare professionals/salesmen out there that are repackaging the same old wheel and selling it as the newest innovation to medicine. It seems like all it takes to innovate in the medical industry is a good marketing plan and a thesaurus. However, this is by no means what Tom Myers does in his book Anatomy Trains. Myers has created an easy to read, easy to understand book that truly advances our understanding of the human body. Anatomy Trains is a fresh new perspective on fascia and the human body and it leaves the reader with an addition “lens” of which to view the body through.
In school I learned a very limited amount about the facial system. Much of it was described as simply a “connective tissue sweater” under the skin and around muscles. However, the truth about fascia couldn’t be further from this “sweater” concept. As Myers points out with sound logic and research, the fascial system is a complex tensegrital system that is continuous throughout all of the human body. Not only does Anatomy Trains clarify the fascial system, but it describes the system with 7 clinically applicable myofascial lines (anatomy trains).
- Superficial Back Line
- Superficial Front Line
- Lateral Line
- Spiral Line
- Arm Lines
- Functional Line
- Deep Front Lines
A Few Things I Learned
Fascia is Continuous
Fascia is a fibrillar structure composed of collagen, elastin, and reticulin. It is not only the sheath that surrounds muscles and bones, but it is also the cotton-candly like net surround each individual cell. Simply put, fascia is what holds our cells together. It helps to organize our structure, provides support for other tissues, adapts to our postures and movements, and affects our everyday function.
Tensegrity is Just as Important as Biomechanics
Tensegrity (tesion integrity) describes a “structural relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusive local compressional member behaviors”. As Myers often describes, it’s how the body is structured more like a sail boat than a brick wall. Tensegrity can be an explanation for how the peri-spinal muscles keep us upright and why releasing hamstring tension can sometimes alieviate plantar fasciitis.
How to Better Assess Posture and Manually Treat
With the new “lens” of the fascial system one can more easily and accurately assess posture and presume what structures may be lengthened and/or shortened. Using the anatomy trains allows for a more methodical visual examination of the patient and can help to guide the clinician in their plan of care. Throughout the book and DVD, Myers offers many useful tips and techniques on how to best affect these myofascial lines. My personal favorite is a manual technique for the erector spinae fascia. Myers recommends to “pile up on the mountains, and dig out the valleys”. Meaning, if the spinous process protrudes (“mountains”) then you should direct the myofascial tissues medially. Conversely, if the spinous process sinks below the surround tissue (“valleys”) then you should direct your manual intervention laterally.
Reading medical books and research tend to be as interesting as reading a phone book. Anatomy Trains is a refreshing departure from this format. It reads with great clarity and is able to simplify complex concepts in a way that the reader can best understand. For a society that is predominately visually based, the book has more pictures and diagrams to aid the readers understanding. Anatomy Trains is a must read for anyone that works with the musculoskeletal system.
Myers T.W. (2009). Anatomy Trains: myofascial meridians for manual and movement therapists 2nd Edition. Elsevier Limited.