If you know me, you know that I love to simplify things especially when it comes to physical therapy. That’s why I love Redcord. It is a simple yet effective tool. Now don’t get me wrong, it looks intimidating with all of those ropes, slings and bungee cords. But once you learn how to use the equipment and understand the testing and clinical reasoning process (known as Redcord NEURAC), it makes treating people so much easier. In my opinion, it also makes physical therapy so much more fun for both the patient and provider.
The way we learn anatomy in school is complex and tedious. You memorize one muscle at a time. You have to know its origin (where it starts), its insertion (where it ends), its action (what joint motions it performs), and its innervation (what nerve allows it to work). You do this for over 650 skeletal muscles throughout the human body. The only problem with this is that you are seeing the body piece by piece, versus seeing it as a whole functional unit with many muscles working together as one.
A Holistic View
Understanding the muscle connection makes me think of that song we all sang as a kid but never knew the name of. The one that goes "knee bone connected to the thigh bone..." Yeah that song, you know what I’m talking about. It was simple, easy to follow, and explained how our body parts are all connected to each other.
I did a little research about the song and found out it was written in the early 1900’s and was first recorded in 1929. The song is called Dem Bones. It was based on a verse in the bible by prophet Ezekiel, when he visited the Valley of Dry Bones and dreamed that one day all these bones in the desert will be resurrected by God and come back to life and dance once again. Here’s a verse from this simple yet awesome song:
Toe bone connected to the foot bone.
Foot bone connected to the heel bone.
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone.
Ankle bone connected to the leg bone.
Leg bone connected to the knee bone.
Knee bone connected to the thigh bone.
Thigh bone connected to the hip bone.
Hip bone connected to the back bone.
Back bone connected to the shoulder bone.
Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone.
Neck bone connected to the head bone.
Hear the word of the Lord.
When I began using the Redcord suspension system many years ago, I was introduced to Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers and my whole anatomy world got flipped upside down in the best way possible. It simplified things for me and made it easier to explain anatomy to my clients in a more functional way.
The basic concept of Anatomy Trains is that, even though we have hundreds of skeletal muscles in the body, they are all connected by fascial tissue. This fascia is the thin outer coating that you see on a chicken breast. It connects the muscles from head to toe.
Myers believes the human body has 12 myofascial meridians (AKA myofascial chains or lines). This is way easier than memorizing 650+ muscles and trying to figure out how they all connect individually. Myers groups them into 12 chains of muscles based on their functional lines of pull.
At my clinic, we have posters of these myofascial chains on the wall. We frequently use them to show our clients how everything is connected. For instance, you can improve neck mobility by working on your inner thigh muscles by way of the “Deep Front Line." In other words, the hip adductors could be a weak link in the myofascial chain, contributing to your neck pain and stiffness.
Clients really appreciate the explanation and quick anatomy lesson. They want to learn how their body works in a simple, digestible way. Most importantly, they want to know how this information will get them better, faster.
For my next blog, I'm going to discuss outer muscles versus inner muscles. Unfortunately there isn't a children's song to help. So I will do my best to keep it simple!
Check out the Redcord suspension system to learn more about how I test and treat the myofascial chains.
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.