What are myofascial lines and how does it affect us?
Understanding myofascial lines
One of the ways to make sense of an holistic therapeutical approach is by understanding myofascial lines. But what are myofascial lines? Lets take a closer look
If we break up the word myofascial, we are left with the two words, myo – meaning muscle, and the fascia which can be translated to connective tissue. Fascia is a strong elastic tissue which helps separate structures from inside our body, such as the bags covering each muscle in our body. This helps avoid the muscles floating freely into each other, but rather keeps them separated in a tidy fashion. This also gives more space for other muscles, nerves and blood vessels to occupy the same space. You can compare this to a tidy cable management. With it, it’s more easy to keep track of what goes where, and how things are connected. And without it, it’s a mess..
A more recent discovery, recent in this case meaning the past few decades, but hey, sometimes we catch on slow.
Is that there is a connection between several muscles that work with the same function and in a line. And these are called myofascial lines. Or more popularly named, muscle lines. These have been documented in dissections done of the human body as well as studies have shown that there is a force transmission which may act on these lines, transmitting force between the various muscles within their line. But what does this mean to us, why should we care?
What it means for our movement and understanding of injury
Well, because it opens a whole new understanding of how loss of function in movement works, and with this understanding we can also understand more of how this impacts pain and injuries. See, if one muscle in one of these lines is injured or loses its ability to regulate and support the line. Then the line as a whole is compromised. Normally, if the injury is small and/or the healing is unproblematic, and the activity of that muscle is re-integrated into supporting its line, then there are no lasting problematic effects. But during this time of injury, the rest of the muscles in the line increase their activity load to support the system, giving the injured muscle or tissue time to heal.
The effect on chronic injuries
But in chronic situations, the previously or currently injured area is not able to re-establish its role in support. Then over time, this can lead to pain or possibly new injuries to other parts of that line, or in some cases, the brain will choose to avoid that line as much as possible, because it senses its ability to provide stability and support to the rest of the body is too poor or compromised. This causes an asymmetrical body position due to the higher activity in the compensating movement patterns. Causing even more problems, potentially, with creating more damage on other parts of the body. Because of overload on other muscles, as well as leading to too much load on other structures due to these compensated patterns which may lead to new injuries, and so a vicious cycle begins
Maintaining healthy movement patterns
The body’s best ability to remain both healthy and fit is to have as many muscles and movement patterns available to it as possible, so that the brain may choose the best option available for the body to complete an activity with as much fluency and stability as possible. This will also help with the amount of force you are able to perform in the activity, such as sports. Rather than being stuck in restricted patterns where certain muscles become both adapted and overloaded to do too much of the work much of the time. Leading to loss of performance due to fatigue as well as possible muscle pain.