Anatomy Trains: Introduction

Note: This is the first edition of a series I will do that gives summaries of fitness books I’m reading. I will look at them chapter by chapter. The purpose of this to better retain the information that I get from the books I read. Far to often I read a book and then later forget the info that I read. Hopefully, this will help. Of course, I also hope that anyone reading this will get a benefit from it as well.

Introduction

The gist of the book is explained in the first sentence: “The basis for the book is simple: whatever else they may be doing individually, muscle also influence functionally integrated body-wide continuities within the fascial webbing.” Essentially, fascia connects muscles into units, called “myofascial meridians,” which allows muscles along a line to effect other muscles/structures along the same line. This is a possible explanation as to why pain in one area of the body can have an origin in another part.

The various myofascial lines depicted on a human body. Image from: anatomytrains.com

This is contrasted with the “isolated muscle theory” which looks only at the action of a single muscle on its attachment points. An alternative is to look at how the pull of muscles effect surrounding structures beyond it’s attachment points (through the fascial system). This opens up new treatment modalities.

The author admits that this concept is not established science, but is pleased with its success in clinical practice. He goes on to say that there is still too little research to claim an objective reality for the meridians. This is actually great to hear because it shows that he is a evidence based practitioner, and if the concept turns out to be incorrect, he won’t dogmatically hold to it.

Although it is frequently termed the “Anatomy Trains Method (ATM)”, the ATM is actually not a new treatment therapy, but a way of looking at the body as whole so as to discover new therapies. In that sense, the ATM is a premise, not a conclusion.

The final thing to note about this chapter is the basic terminology. “Myofascia” refers to the bundle of muscle and fascia. It’s a “meridian” in the sense that the body has different lines of pull that envelope the body like latitude and longitude envelope the globe. The ATM further breaks down into “myofascial continuity” which are two adjacently linked muscles, whereas the meridians are the entire series, line, or track (to use the trains terminology) of linked muscles.

It needs to be said that myofascial is not a functionally distinct term per say, as all tissues are ultimately integrated (muscle, connective, nervous, vascular, ect.).

So, that’s about it for the introduction to the book. Coming soon will be chapter 1.

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