Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists 3rd Edition
Since initial publication in 2001, the reach and application of the ideas in this book have far outstripped this author’s expectations. We and our staff have been invited to present these ideas and their application on every continent save Antarctica to a wide variety of professionals, including orthopedists, physiatrists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, psychologists, athletic and personal trainers, performance coaches, yoga teachers, martial artists, massage therapists, dancers, and somatic educators of all stripes. The book is now available in 12 languages. A simple Google® search of Anatomy Trains now yields nearly 6,000,000 hits, as therapists and educators find useful applications far beyond our original conception.
This third edition includes many small updates and corrections that arose out of our continuing teaching and practice, as well as preliminary evidence from fascial dissections. We have been able to include some recent discoveries made in the fascial and myofascial world since the second edition (much of it summarized in Fascia, the Tensional Network of the Human Body, 2012, Schleip R, Findley T, Chaitow L, Huijing P; Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone), as well as to fill in areas where our initial ignorance of the wider world has been rectified.
This edition benefits from updated artwork by Graeme Chambers, Debbie Maizels and Philip Wilson. New client assessment photos have been produced by Michael Frenchman/Videograf and Pedro Guimaraes/Pamedia Design.
The book is designed to allow rapid comprehension of the relevant concepts for a casual reader, or a detailed analysis for the curious.
Like most textbooks these days, this edition makes increasing use of electronic media. The text is studded with website addresses for further study, and our own website, www.anatomytrains.com, is being constantly updated. There are also consistent references to the set of a dozen or more DVDs we have produced to support professional application of the Anatomy Trains concepts.
The website accompanying this book – www.myersmyofascialmeridians.com – provides access to goodies not otherwise available in a book format, including video clips from our technique, dissection, and visual assessment DVDs, computer graphic representations of the Anatomy Trains, webinars, and some extra client photos for visual assessment practice.
Both the understanding of the role of fascia and the implications and applications of Anatomy Trains are developing rapidly. This new edition and its connections to the web ensure an up-to-date point of view on fascia, a largely missing element in movement study.
Preface to the first edition
I stand in absolute awe of the miracle of life. My wonder and curiosity have only increased during the more than three decades of immersion in the study of human movement. Whether our ever-evolving body was fashioned by an all-knowing if mischievous Creator, or by a purely selfish gene struggling blindly up Mount Improbable,1-3 the ingenious variety and flexibility shown in somatic design and development leaves the observer shaking his head with a rueful grin of astonishment.
One looks in vain inside the fertilized ovum for the trillion-cell fetus that it will become. Even the most cursory examination of the complexities of embryology leaves us amazed that it works as often as it does to produce a healthy infant. Hold a helpless, squalling baby, and it seems almost unbelievable that so many escape all the possible debilitating pitfalls on the road to a healthy and productive adulthood.
Despite its biological success, the human experiment as a whole is showing some signs of strain. When I read the news, I confess to having feelings of ambivalence as to whether humankind can or even should continue on this planet, given our cumulative effect on its surface flora and fauna and our treatment of each other. When I hold that baby, however, my commitment to human potential is once again confirmed.
This book (and the seminars and training courses from which it developed) is devoted to the slim chance that we as a species can move beyond our current dedication to collective greed – and the technocracy and alienation that proceed from it – into a more cooperative and humane relationship with ourselves, each other and our environs. One hopes the development of a ‘holistic’ view of anatomy such as the one outlined herein will be useful to the manual and movement therapists in relieving pain and resolving difficulties in the clients who seek their help. The deeper premise underlying the book, however, is that a more thorough and sensitive contact with our ‘felt sense’ – that is, our kinesthetic, proprioceptive, spatial sense of orientation and movement – is a vitally important front on which to fight the battle for a more human use of human beings, and a better integration with the world around us. The progressive deadening of this ‘felt sense’ in our children, whether through simple ignorance or by deliberate schooling, lends itself to a collective dissociation, which leads in turn to environmental and social decline. We have long been familiar with mental intelligence (IQ) and more recently have recognized emotional intelligence (EQ). Only by re-contacting the full reach and educational potential of our kinesthetic intelligence (KQ) will we have any hope of finding a balanced relationship with the larger systems of the world around us, to fulfill what Thomas Berry called ‘the Dream of the Earth’.4,5
The traditional mechanistic view of anatomy, as useful as it has been, has objectified rather than humanized our relationship to our insides. It is hoped that the relational view ventured in this book will go some little way toward connecting Descartes’ view of the body as a ‘soft machine’ with the living experience of being in a body which grows, learns, matures and ultimately dies. Although the Anatomy Trains ideas form only one small detail of a larger picture of human development through movement, an appreciation of the fascial web and balance in the myofascial meridians can definitely contribute to our inner sense of ourselves as integrated beings. This, coupled with other concepts to be presented in future works, leads toward a physical education more appropriate to the needs of the 21st century.6-9
As such, Anatomy Trains is a work of art in a scientific metaphor. This book leaps ahead of the science to propose a point of view, one that is still being literally fleshed out and refined. I have frequently been taken to task by my wife, my students, and my colleagues for stating my hypotheses baldly, with few of the qualifying adjectives which, though necessary to scientific accuracy, dampen the visceral force of an argument. As Evelyn Waugh wrote: ‘Humility is not a virtue propitious to the artist. It is often pride, emulation, avarice, malice – all the odious qualities – which drive a man to complete, elaborate, refine, destroy, and renew his work until he has made something that gratifies his pride and envy and greed. And in so doing he enriches the world more than the generous and the good. That is the paradox of artistic achievement.’10
Being neither a scholar nor a researcher, I can only hope that this work of ‘artifice’ is useful in providing some new ideas for the good people who are.
Finally, I hope that I have honored Vesalius and all the other explorers before me by getting the anatomy about right.
1. Dawkins, R. The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1990.
2. Dawkins, R. The blind watchmaker. New York: WB Norton; 1996.
3. Dawkins, R. Climbing Mount Improbable. New York: WB Norton; 1997.
4. Csikzentimihalyi, M. Flow. New York: Harper & Row; 1990.
5. Berry, T. The dream of the earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club; 1990.
6. Myers, T. Kinesthetic dystonia. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 1998; 2(2):101–114.
7. Myers, T. Kinesthetic dystonia. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 1998; 2(4):231–247.
8. Myers, T. Kinesthetic dystonia. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 1999; 3(1):36–43.
9. Myers, T. Kinesthetic dystonia. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 1999; 3(2):107–116.
10. Waugh, E, Private letter quoted in the New Yorker, 1999.
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