The Spiral Line

The Spiral Line myofascial meridian is somewhat more complicated than the lines we have already examined. It forms distinct spirals of deep myofascial connections looping around the legs and torso.

The first part of the Spiral Line that we will look at is a spiral loop that starts at the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) and follows the tensor fascia lata muscle and iliotibial band down the side of the thigh connecting to the anterior tibialis muscle just below the lateral knee and following the tibialis anterior to its insertion on the base of the 1st metatarsal. If you remember from the Lateral Line, the peroneus longus tendon also inserts here and now the Spiral line continues up the peroneus longus muscle to the insertion of the biceps femoris muscle, which is the lateral hamstring muscle that attaches on the head of the fibula. From here, the Spiral Line follows the biceps femoris to its origin on the ischial tuberosity (sitting bone). This "myofascial loop" gives structural evidence of the connection between pelvic tilt and the arch of the foot. In other words, if the arch of the foot is collapsed then this can be related to anterior pelvic tilt. This is functionally very significant.

The Spiral Line continues into the torso where the lower portion left off. It continues from the ASIS on the anterior pelvis and traverses the front of the abdomen via the internal abdominal oblique on one side of the body and crosses over to the external abdominal oblique on the other side of the body. This follows the functional connection of contra-lateral obliques during twists of the torso. The spiral continues around the side ribs via the serratus anterior muscle.

Now, the Spiral Line continues around the back as the serratus anterior connects through the scapula to the ipsilateral rhomboids and then across the spine to the contralateral splenius capitus and splenius cervicis.

The final connection of the Spiral Line in the torso is from the occipital ridge (where the splenius capitus attaches) down the erector spinae, through the lumbosacral fascia, across the sacrum and sacrotuberous ligament and back to the ischial tuberosity (sitting bone). So there are essentially two spiral loops...one from the ASIS around the foot and back to the ipsilateral sitting bone and another from the ASIS across the torso contralaterally, around the upper back to the ipsilateral neck and down the back to the sitting bone. This is a complex myofascial meridian and has functional implications. Below is a visual summary in two parts:

The upper portion of Spiral Line is very complex in that it crosses the over the midline of the torso. I have already introduced the functional implications of this myofascial meridian. Now, we will look at yoga and bodywork applications.

Yoga Applications

In yoga, the Spiral Line comes into play in twists of the torso and lifts of the arch. As in utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), the torso is twisted and the arch lifts to support pelvic position. Follow this link to look at triangle pose... Bandha Yoga Click on trikonasana

Massage Applications

In massage, the most practical application of releasing the Spiral Line is for balancing postural asymmetries. One access point would be the TFL and ITB to release anterior and inferior forces pulling the pelvis into anterior rotation. Another access point would be contralateral rhomboid to ipsilateral splenius capitus to release spiral tension across the upper back into the posterior neck. These myofacial release techniques need to be learned in a hands-on format to fully embrace the proper application.

Front Arm Lines

There are two Front Arm Lines (Superficial and Deep)

The Superficial Front Arm Line begins on the sternum, clavicle and ribs at the origin of the pectoralis major muscle. Although the latissimus dorsi comes from the back of the body, it is a part of the Superficial Front Line due to its anatomical and functional relationship to the pectoralis major. The latissimus dorsi inserts on the medial bicipital groove and along with the pectoralis major connect here to the medial intermuscular septum along the humerus. The intermuscular septum then is continuous with the common flexor tendons that originate at the medial epicondyle of the ulna. Finally, the Superficial Front Arm Line passes through the carpal tunnel and ends in the insertion into the palmar surface of the fingers.

The Deep Front Arm Line begins on the 3,4 and 5 ribs at origin of the pectoralis minor which inserts on the coracoid process of the scapula. From there, it is continuous with the short head of the biceps brachaii muscle all the way to its insertion on the radius and deep along the periosteum of the radius, across the scaphoid to the thenar eminence of the thumb.

Yoga Applications

In yoga, opening the chest and shoulders (heart openers) are key to releasing tension in the Front Arm Lines. This can be accomplished with any open-kinetic chain movements of the arms into horizontal abduction. Along with stretching the Front Arm Lines, strengthening the Back Arm Lines is important to functionally maintain the openess of the Front Arm Lines. To accomplish this, strengthening backbends like salabhasana (locust pose) with the palms down and arms lifting up and out can activate the arms to resist "rounded shoulder" posturing. You can see a picture of salabhasana if you follow this link. Bandha Yoga click on salabhasana NOTE: the arm position in this posture is in the classic palms up position. To full access opening the Front Arm Lines, you would turn the palms down and lift the arms up and out. In the closed kinetic chain, adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog pose) elongates the Front Arm Lines. Follow this link Bandha Yoga click on adho mukha svanasana

Massage Applications

In massage, the most important implication is for myofascial release of the Front Arm Lines for decreasing tension associated with "rounded shoulder" and "forward head" postures. By releasing along the pectoralis major and underneath it, the pectoralis minor, the "down and forward" myofascial pull can be reduced. I use a stool with a pillow on it to allow my client to open their arm out to the side to release the Front Arm Lines.

Back Arm Lines

There are two Back Arms Lines (Superficial and Deep)

The Superficial Back Arm Line begins on the wide origin of the trapezius muscle, the nuchal line of the occipital bone, nuchal ligament (nuchal line to C7), and spinous processes of C7-T12. All of the fibers of the trapezius muscle converge on the spine of the scapula and then continue into the deltoid muscle. The middle and lower trapezius fibers continue into the posterior deltoid, the cervical trapezius fibers are continuous with the middle deltoid and the occipital trapezius fibers continue into the anterior deltoid. The three heads of the deltoid converge on the deltoid tubercle on the humerus. The Superficial Back Arm Line then continues along the lateral intermuscular septum to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. From here the line melds into the common extensor origin and follows the wrist and hand extensor muscles under the dorsal retinaculum and then on to insert on the carpals and phalanges.

Superficial Back Arm Line

The Deep Back Arm Line

The Deep Back Arm Line has two orgins. One begins at the origin of the rhomboids (C7-T5 spinous processes) and follows the rhomboids over to their insertion on the medial border of the scapula. From here the line continues on the fibers of the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles (two of the rotator cuff muscles). The second origin of the Deep Back Arm Line begins on the lateral occiput at the origin of the rectus capitus lateralis and continues to the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. Now, the line continues down the fibers of the levator scapula to the superior angle of the scapula and melds into the supraspinatus muscle in the supraspinous fossa of the scapula. The supraspinatus is another rotator cuff muscle and it is here that the two origins converge on the head of the humerus. The rotator cuff muscles keep the "ball" of the humerus in the "socket" of the glenoid fossa of the scapula. From here, the Deep Back Arm Line connects into the triceps brachii muscle and down to the olecranon process of the ulna. The line continues along the periosteum of the ulna to the hypothenar eminence. That concludes the Deep Back Arm Line...below is a visual summary.

Yoga Applications

The mobility of the shoulder joint and the shoulder girdle require a balance between the Front Arm Lines and the Back Arm Lines. The general tendency is for the Front Arm Lines to be shortened and the Back Arm Lines to be lengthened. As this is often the case (due to the functional use of our arms), yoga postures would be good to open the chest and front of the shoulders and strengthen the upper back and back of the shoulders. Refer to the Front Arm Line section above.

Massage Applications

In massage, tightness in the levator scapula is very common. Functionally, this can be related to a stress-related "turtle" response and/or improper use of the lower trapezius in raising the arms. Either way, releasing the levator scapula is important in relaxing posterior and lateral neck tightness. The rhomboids, while often tight, are usually "locked long" and in need of shortening. So it is fine to work on trigger points in the rhomboids, but know that you will most likely have to release the Front Arms Lines to achieve a balance here.

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