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- one small aspect of this one system among the myriad
rhythmic and harmonic patterns at play in the living
body. As such, it is a small part of a larger re-vision of
ourselves, not as Descartes' 'soft machines' but as inte-
grated informational systems, what the non-linear
dynamics mathematicians call autopoietic (self-forming)
systems. 14-1 8
Although attempts to shift our conceptual framework
in a relational direction may sound fuzzy at first, com-
pared to the crisp 'if . . . then .. .' statements of the
mechanists, ultimately this new view leads to powerful
integrative therapeutic strategies. These new strategies
not only include the mechanics but also go beyond to
say something useful about the systemic behavior of the
whole unpredicted by summing up the behaviors of
each individual part.
While the term 'myofascial' has steadily gained cur-
rency over the last couple of decades, replacing 'muscle'
in some texts, minds, and brand names, it is still widely
misunderstood. In many applications of 'myofascial'
therapies, the techniques taught are actually focused on
individual muscles (or myofascial units, if we are to be
precise), and fail to address specifically the communi-
cating aspect of the myofasciae across extended lines
and broad planes within the body. 23-2 4 The Anatomy
Trains approach, as we have noted, does not displace
these techniques but simply adds a dimension of con-
nectivity to our visual, palpatory, and movement con-
siderations in assessment and treatment (Fig. In. 8).
Anatomy Trains fills a current need for a global view of
human structure and movement.
In any case, the word 'myofascial' is a terminological
innovation only, since it has always been impossible,
under whatever name, to contact muscle tissue at any
time or place without also contacting and affecting the
accompanying connective or fascial tissues. Even that
inclusion is incomplete, since almost all of our interven-
tions will also necessarily contact and affect neural, vas-
cular, and epithelial cells and tissues as well. Nevertheless,
the approach detailed in this topic largely ignores these
other tissue effects to concentrate on one aspect of the
patterns of arrangement - the design, if you will - of the
'fibrous body' in the upright adult human. This fibrous
body consists of the entire collagenous net, which
includes all the tissues investing and attaching the
organs as well as the collagen in bones, cartilage,
tendons, ligaments, and the myofasciae. 'Myofasciae'
specifically narrows our view to the muscle fibers
embedded in their associated fasciae (as in Fig. In. 6). In
order to simplify, and to emphasize a central tenet of
this topic - the unitary nature of the fascial web - this
tissue will henceforth be referred to in its singular form:
myofascia. There is really no need for a plural, because
it arises from and remains all one structure. For the
myofascia, only a knife creates the plural.
The term 'myofascial continuity' describes the con-
nection between two longitudinally adjacent and aligned
structures within the structural webbing. There is a
Anatomy Trains and myofascial
meridians: what's in a name?
'Anatomy Trains' is a descriptive term for the whole
schema. It is also a way of having a bit of fun with a
fairly dense subject by providing a useful metaphor for
the collection of continuities described in this topic. The
image of tracks, stations, switches and so on, is used
throughout the text. A single Anatomy Train is an equiv-
alent term for a myofascial meridian.
The word 'myofascia' connotes the bundled together,
inseparable nature of muscle tissue (myo-) and its accom-
panying web of connective tissue (fascia), which comes
up for a fuller discussion in Chapter 1 (Fig. In. 6).
Manual therapy of the myofasciae has spread quite
widely among massage therapists, osteopaths, and
physiotherapists from several modern roots. These
include the work of my own primary teacher, Dr Ida
Rolf, 1 9 a UK version of NeuroMuscular Therapy pro-
mulgated by Dr Leon Chaitow, 2 0 and others, many of
whom make various claims to originality, but who, in
fact, are part of an unbroken chain of hands-on healers
running back to Asklepios (Lat: Aesculapius), and from
early Greece into the mists of pre-history (Fig. In. 7). 21 ' 2 2
Fig. In. 7 Dr Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979), originator of the Structural
Integration form of myofascial manipulation. (Reproduced with kind
permission from Ronald Thompson.)
Fig. In. 6 A magnification of the myofascia: the 'cotton candy' is
endomysial collagen fibers enwrapping and thoroughly enmeshed
with the fleshy (and teased up) muscle fibers. (Reproduced with
kind permission from Ronald Thompson.)
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