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explained in terms useful for soft-tissue and movement
work. In a derailment, the Anatomy Trains still work,
but only under particular conditions.
In order to understand this first important exception,
we need to look more closely at the interface between
the two heads of the gastrocnemius and the tendons of
the three hamstrings (Fig. 3.18).
It is easy to see from comparing Figure 3.3 with Figure
3.18 that the gastrocnemius and hamstrings are both
separate and connected. In dissection, the fascia clearly
links from near the distal ends of the hamstrings to near
the proximal ends of the gastrocnemii heads. In practice,
a slight flexion of the knees delinks the one from the
other. While by strict Anatomy Trains rules they are a
myofascial continuity, they do function as one only
when the knee is extended. The gastrocnemii heads
reach up and around the hamstring tendons to insert
onto the upper portions of the femoral condyles. The
hamstrings reach down and around the gastrocnemii to
attach to the tibia and fibula. As long as the knee is bent,
these two myofascial units go their own ways, neighbor-
ing but loosely connected (Fig. 3.19A). As the knee joint
goes into extension, however, the femoral condyles
come back into both these myofasciae, tightening the
complex, engaging these elements with each other, and
making them function together almost as if they were
two pairs of hands gripped at the wrists (Fig. 3.19B-D).
This configuration also bears a strong resemblance to a
square knot, loosened when the knee is bent, tightened
as the knee straightens.
This provides a long-winded but accurate explanation
of why it is less of a stretch to pick up your dropped keys
from the floor by flexing your knees rather than keeping
Fig. 3.17 The Achilles tendon and
the gastrocnemius muscle form the
superficial express muscle that
crosses both knee and ankle.
crosses only the ankle joint - passing from the heel to
the posterior aspects of the tibia, interosseous mem-
brane, and fibula - and acts only on this joint. (The so-
called ankle joint is really two joints, consisting of the
tibio-talar joint, which acts in plantar- and dorsiflexion,
and the subtalar joint, which acts in what we will call
inversion and eversion. Though the triceps surae - plan-
taris, gastrocnemius and soleus together - does have
some effect on the subtalar joint, we will ignore that
effect for now, designating the soleus a one-joint muscle
for the purposes of this example.)
If we took the soleus local, we could keep going on
the same fascial plane and come onto the fascia on the
back of the popliteus, which crosses the knee and flexes
it (and also rotates the tibia medially on the femur when
the knee is flexed, though that is outside our current
discussion). The gastrocnemius express can thus partici-
pate in both plantarflexion and knee flexion, while each
of the two locals provides one action only. We will see
this phenomenon repeated throughout the myofascial
Following the SBL via the gastrocnemius, we come to
the first of many bends in the Anatomy Trains rules,
which we will term 'derailments'. Derailments are
exceptions to the Anatomy Trains rules, which can be
Fig. 3.18 The relationship between the heads of the gastrocnemii
and the tendons of the hamstrings in the popliteal space behind
the knee. (© Ralph T Hutchings. Reproduced from Abrahams et al
1998.) See also Figure 3.3.
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