In my last two blogs, I explained how our muscles (and hence our bones and joints) are connected to each other through a series of myofascial chains. I also explained how we have inner muscles that stabilize our joints versus outer muscles that move our joints.
In the spirit of keeping things simple with regards to explaining the myofascial chains, I am going to break them down into the ones located in the front of the body, back of the body, and sides of the body. Lastly, I will go over the Spiral Line because it basically combines all of the myofascial chains. In my opinion, it is the most complex line because it wraps around the body from front to back and from head to toe.
So let’s start with the 3 myofascial chains located in the front of the body (or “ventral” side if you want to use a fancy term!). These myofascial chains are the: 1) Deep Front Line, 2) Functional Front Line, and 3) Superficial Front Line.
For this blog post, I am going to focus on the Deep Front Line. It’s the deepest myofascial chain for stabilizing our hips, low back and neck. I would consider it sort of like a “local” myofascial chain. If you remember back to my previous blog post, the local muscles are our postural muscles which stabilize and protect the spine and other joints to allow for upright posture and functional mobility.
Now remember that I’m going to give you a simple explanation of each myofascial chain and how it works for me in everyday practice as a physical therapist. I will not be going into the morphology of “fascia” per se. But I will tell you that researchers have found that fascia has a very high density of muscle spindle receptors, so our fascial connections can influence the way our brain and muscles communicate with each other. Working on these myofascial chains could have a lot of potential in changing functional movement patterns. And, at the end of the day, improving functional mobility is one of the most important things we do as physical therapists for our clients.
When I talk about the Deep Front Line, I look at the major players along this myofascial chain. These are the muscle groups impacting that myofascial chain the most. The largest link in this chain is the inner thigh muscles. Known as our hip adductors, these make up a big muscle group, but still much smaller than the quadriceps on the front of the thigh.
The hip adductors are difficult to engage during most exercises. That's why physical therapists typically prescribe isometric type exercises, like squeezing a ball between your knees. But these exercises don't have much carryover into real life function.
On the other hand, when I have my clients perform various hip adduction exercises on the Redcord suspension system, I notice an immediate change of functional mobility in their low back and all the way up to their neck. I think this has to do with a “zero-gravity” environment which allows them to very gently engage their hip adductors (in line with the whole myofascial chain) without any interference of pain.
It is common for me to see people who have gone to other physical therapists for neck pain. Usually I find major weaknesses in their inner thighs. Once I get those muscles firing better, they will have better range of motion and less pain in their neck and trunk.
The next big player in the Deep Front Line is the pelvic floor. These muscles are considered the innermost part of our core muscles. A lot of people look at the core as a canister. So the bottom of this canister would be the pelvic floor muscles. Imagine if you did not have a strong pelvic floor. Your spine would be vulnerable to injury because of an unstable foundation for the entire core. It’s like trying to build a house on swamp land.
The deep line fascial connection then travels upwards to the next important muscle group: the diaphragm. The diaphragm is considered to be the top of the canister. It’s just as important as the bottom of the canister. Imagine living in a house with an unstable roof. The diaphragm helps you breathe in and out and is located just below your lungs, heart and rib cage. Dysfunction here will impact your breathing and it could negatively impact how your core stabilizes itself.
The Deep Front Line then travels all the way up into the neck. Therefore, it could affect how your neck moves. Before I got introduced to myofascial chains I would never have thought that the inner thigh muscles could influence neck function. But now I always look at inner thigh strength when I evaluate the neck. This shows me how the whole body is connected.
So here’s the point. If your PT is just working on the site of pain, they could be missing the boat. To learn more about how I find and fix muscle imbalances along each myofascial chain, check out the Redcord suspension system.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.