In this blog series, I am breaking down the myofascial chains (chains of muscles that work together to perform movements) into the ones in the front of the body, back of the body, and sides of the body. I highlighted the Deep Front Line in my last post. Today I'm going to talk about the second of three myofascial chains located in the front of the body: the Front Functional Line.
I love this myofascial chain because it just sounds so cool. When I first heard of it back in 2010, the Front Functional Line sounded like something that would have to improve functional mobility if trained well enough. After all, function is in the name of the line so it has to be important.
The Front Functional Line to me has three major players: 1) the hip adductors or inner thigh muscles, 2) the abdominals, 3) and the pectoralis or chest muscles. It starts at the hip adductors on one side of the leg, then travels up through the abdominal muscles and ends at the opposite shoulder or chest region. So imagine that it crosses the body on the left leg and attaches to the right chest; while the other side runs from the right inner thigh to the left chest. Thus it forms an “X” on the front of the body.
Some of the movements in daily life and sport that I think of when referring to the Front Functional Line are the golf swing, baseball pitch, soccer kick, and just about any other rotational motion of the hips, trunk, shoulder and neck including walking and running. I’m now understanding why Thomas Myers titled it the Front Functional Line, since it's highlighted in nearly every rotational movement that you make in everyday function. This line sits more superficial than the Deep Front Line that I described in my previous blog.
One thing that I assess when I look at an athlete is their ability to rotate left and right. This motion is called multi-segmental rotation because it involves many moving parts at one time: the hips, low back, upper back and neck. If there's a limitation into these movements, then I have to determine whether it is coming from their joints or from a lack of neuromuscular (mind-muscle) control to complete the full rotation. I do this by passively testing how their hips move, upper back moves, and neck moves. If all of those movements display full passive range of motion, then I know the problem must involve a loss of neuromuscular control.
Next I will see how they control rotational movements on the Redcord suspension system. I first test their hip adductors. The adductors are part of both the Front Functional Line and the Deep Front Line. They help stabilize the spine during rotation of the trunk and neck. I find that activating the hip adductors on either leg will tend to improve multi-segmental rotation when standing.
After working the adductors in side-lying, I will look further up the chain at the opposite shoulder and chest region where the Front Functional Line ends. I will usually challenge these muscles unilaterally in the ropes by doing a single arm and opposite leg exercise, such as the one demonstrated below. In this video, my teammate, Dr. Bryan Carestia, demonstrates how to do a Front Functional Line plank exercise with bungee assistance.
While these exercises are highly effective at improving functional mobility, they are just two examples of movements to activate the Front Functional Line. Of course there are literally millions of other ways to work it.
I also think about posture when referring to the Front Functional Line. People spend so much time on their computer these days which leads them to have a forward flexed head posture and rounded shoulders. This position will shorten and tighten the chest causing increased stiffness in the pectoralis muscles thus causing weakness further down the chain into the inner thigh muscles. I’ve tested enough people with poor posture and have notice a direct correlation with inner thigh weakness. Also the hip flexors tighten up from prolong sitting. The hip adductors and hip flexors share a fascial connection and are chronically weak because of sitting and poor posture. To help offset this position, I tell my clients to get up frequently and do a pectoralis stretch in the doorway and a hip flexor stretch in half kneeling to help keep these muscles loose.
To summarize, the Front Functional Line can be thought of as a very powerful multi-segmental rotator and athletic myofascial chain. But it can also contribute to poor posture. Either way, our holistic approach to treating it will cover all the bases. 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.