Principles of Posture

The word posture conjures up many thoughts.  Mom and Dad “saying stand up straight” or a picture of yourself hunched over a desk and computer attached to the phone. 

 The word posture as per Webster is (1) the position or carriage of the body in standing or sitting; bearing (2) an attitude of mind; frame of mind (3) the habitual or assumed disposition of the parts of the body in a standing, sitting, etc.  What relationship does physical posture have on our overall health?

Developing how we see the body is one of the first steps in assessing posture. A comprehensive view of the body and how it moves as a result of the posture is needed to evaluate the body.  Here are some key point to tune into when looking at posture.

Front View

  1. Look at the feet. Are the arches falling?  Are the toes clenched? Is the weight on the outside, inside of the feet or balanced over the ankles? Does each foot look the same or are they different? Are the feet pointed in or out?
  2. Are the ankles falling in?  Is one ankle falling in?
  3. The knees.  Do the knees point in the same direction? Does one point out or in more? Are they directly under the hips or closer together than the hips?
  4. When the person is standing with feet hip width apart and asked to bring the knees forward as if they were going to sit, do the knees remain in the same plane or do they move outward or inward?
  5. The hips.  Is one hip bone higher than the other?  Is one hip bone farther forward than the other or farther back?
  6. Waistline. Is the waistline straight or is one side higher than the other? Is the navel off to one side or on the midline?
  7. Shoulders.  Is one shoulder higher than the other? Is one side more forward than the other?
  8. Arms.  Do the arms hang evenly?  Are the height of the hands even or does one lie higher on the side of the body? How far away from the body do they hang? Is one farther away from the trunk than the other?
  9. Neck/head.  Does the head tilt to one side or the other? Does the neck go one way and the head the other way?
  10. Can you draw a straight line from the top of the head through the nose, chin, navel to the mid point between the feet?
  11. If you have the person roll slowly forward to touch their toes (letting their hands hang) does the length of their hands vary as they roll down?
  12. After having the person march in place, where do their feet fall naturally?

Side View

  1. How does the weight look on the feet?  Does it look like the person is going to spring off a diving board or fall over backwards?
  2. Are the knees locked? Straight? Slightly bent?
  3. Are the hips forward over the feet or behind the feet? If the pelvis were a bowl would the contents spill out the front or back or remain in the bowl?
  4. Does the low back sway forward or is it straight as a board?
  5. Is the upper back rounded forward or are the shoulder blades pulled back?
  6. Is the head forward or right over the shoulders?


Back View

  1. Are the achilles tendons straight or curved inward or outward? Are the heels closer together and toes pointed out more?  How do the arches look? Are they high or falling?
  2. Are the calf muscles equally developed?
  3. Are the knees locked or slightly bent?
  4. Are the iliac crests even or is one higher than the other?
  5. How does the tissue on the back look?  Is there more draping on one side than the other? Do the scapulas stick out or are they close to the back?
  6. Do the arms hang closely to the sides?  In which direction do the elbows point?
  7. Are the shoulders even or is one higher than the other?
  8. Is the head on straight or off to one side or the other?

The ideal alignment is to have the feet directly under the hips and knees and have the torso, shoulders and neck balanced over the hips with minimal muscular activity going on to hold this upright position. The knees should be straight ahead. The feet should not be turned out.  The weight should be balanced over the feet evenly not with more weight on the heels or balls of the feet. From the side you should be able to draw a straight line through the ear, shoulder, hip, ankle perpendicular to the floor.

Misalignment and imbalance leads to more stress in certain areas of the body, just as in a case of tires on a car that are not balanced.  The areas involved will wear out faster especially under stress or trauma.

How do we get misaligned or imbalanced?  Muscular tightness, muscular weakness,  having a dominant side, moving in habitual patterns, emotional stress and trauma, birth, being in the womb, repetitive activities, lack of or decreasing awareness, food allergies or intolerances – you name it -it is all a part of who we are physically.

Joint Movements

Types of Movements of the Joints

  1. Flexion and Extension – Extension occurs when the surfaces get farther apart and the bones straighten. Flexion results in a decrease of the angle at the joint and brings the bones closer together. They occur in the sagittal plane around a frontal coronal axis.  Examples include the flexion of the arm at the elbow, hand at the wrist, leg at the knee. Foot at ankle is dorsiflexion which is lifting the foot upward and plantar flexion which is moving the food downward from the ankle.
  2. Lateral Flexion – side bending of the axial skeleton.  Examples are lateral flexion of the head at the neck and trunk.
  3. Abduction and Adduction – frontal plane movements around a sagittal axis occur at multiaxial joints like the bal and socket joint of the shoulder or ellipsoid joints. Abduction is movement away from the midline of the trunk of the body.  Adduction is movement medically toward the midline of the body.  (Tip to remember – Add – as in add to the body.)
  4. diagonal abduction  – Movement of a limb through a diagonal plane directly across and away from the midline of the body. moving the right arm from in front of the left hip to in front of the right shoulder
    diagonal adduction – movement by a limb through a diagonal plane toward and cross the midline of the body.
  5. Horizontal abduction – movement of the humerus in the horizontal plane away from the midline of the body: horizontal extension or transverse adduction.
    Horizontal adduction – movement of the humerus in the horizontal plane of the body toward the midline of the body. horizontal flexion or transverse adduction.
  6. Internal and external rotation – movement around an axis through a line on a structure, movement on a transverse plane around a longitudinal axis.  Rotation occurs at ball and socket joints.  Examples include rotation of the atlanoaxial joint (C1 and C2 of the neck). Internal rotation of the humerus at the shoulder and femur of the hip.
  7. Circumduction is a combination of abduction and adduction, flexion/extension and rotation and occurs at multiaxial joints.  It follows a pine cone shaped path of movement. Examples are the movement of the humerus at the shoulder and the femur at the hip.
  8. Pronation and Supination are movements of the forearm.  Turning the forearm from the supine position which is palm up to prone which is palm down.
  9. Inversion and Eversion – Movements of the foot that occur within the foot or ankle complex.  The reference surface is the planar surface (bottom of the foot ) when the foot faced inward. When the sole faces out it is eversion.
  10. Elevation and depression, protraction and retraction include the movement of the clavicle and scapula at the shoulder girdle.  Elevation is upward, depression is downward, protracation is forward, retraction is backwards.
  11. Hyperextension – beyond the anatomical position as the arm at the shoulder or leg at the hip.

Lymphatic System Basics

Functions of the Lymphatic System for Massage Therapists/Students:

  • Draining interstitial fluid

  • Protecting against invasion – immune response involving the Tand B lymphocytes and also phagocytes

  • Transporting dietary fats – carry lipids and lipid soluble vitamins from the gastrointestional system into the blood

  • Returns nutrients and proteins to the blood

Lymphatic Vessels and Lymph

Lymphatic Capillaries – close ended vessels in the spaces between the cells of the body which are slightly larger than blood capillaries.  Allows interstitial fluid to flow into them but not out.  The ends of the endothelial cells overlap acting as one way valves. Found throughout the body except in avascular tissue, the CNS and bone marrow.   Capillaries converge into lymphatic vessels.

Components of Lymph – water, oxygen, nutrients, proteins, some fats, hormones

Lymphatic Circulation- Lymph is moved via skeletal muscle pump and the respiratory pump.  Lymphatic vessels lie in the subcutaneous tissue and generally follow veins.  Lymphatic vessels of the viscera generally follow arteries forming plexuses around them.

Lymphatic Vessels: (from smallest to largest)

  1. Lymphatic Capillaries

  2. Lymphatic Vessels

  3. Lymphatic trunks – named for the area of the body that they drain – lumbar, intestinal, bronchomediastinal, subclavian and jugular trunks

  4. Lymphatic ducts:
    Right lymphatic duct – approximately 1/2 inch long, drains the right upper side of the body and empties into the subclavian vein
    Thoracic (left lymphatic) duct – approximately 18 inches long.  Starts as a narrowing of the cisterna chyli in front of second lumbar vertebra.  Cisterna chyli receives lymph from the right and left lumbar trunks and from the intestinal trunk. All of the body that is not drained by the right duct.

Lymph Nodes

Nodes are oval or bean shaped and are found around lymphatic vessels.  They range from .04 inches to 1 inch in length.  Found in groups scattered throughout the body.  Usually a superficial set and a deep set.

Most important lymph nodes: Cervical, axillary, tracheobronchial nodes, messenteric nodes

Other lymphatic tissues:

Tonsils – pharyngeal, palatine, lingual

Spleen – phagocytosis of worn out or damaged Red Blood Cells and platelets

Thymus gland – in front of the heart

Health Conditions:

Metastisis – cancer may travel though lymphatic system

Edema- from increased permeability of capillaries from infections or drugs or damage. Increased venous pressure from cardiac problems or blood clots.

Resources:

Books:

Milady’s Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage

Foundations of Manual Lymph Drainage

The Lymphatic System on bartelby.com

Articles Online:

The Benefits of Lymphatic Massage Discover How To Boost Energy and Immunity By Cathy Ulrich


Lymph Drainage Therapy An Effective Complement to Breast Care By Bruno Chikly, M.D.


Lymph Drainage for Detoxification  By Boris Prilutsky

Lymph Massage Armoring the Immune System By Karrie Osborn

The Evolving Practice of Breast Massage By Kate Jordan, NCTMB

Chikly Health Institute– articles on LDT

Lymph Drainage Therapy on squidoo.com – great resource with good pictures.

Lymphnotes.com – understanding the lymphatic system.

Learn Lymphatic Drainage techniques:

International Alliance of Healthcare Educators: Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) is an original hands-on method of lymphatic drainage developed by Bruno Chikly, MD, of France. Based on the traditional knowledge of Emil Vodder and F.P. Millard. LDT combines precise anatomical and physiological knowledge with techniques of direct listening that enable practitioners to very effectively stimulate the lymphatic flow.

North American Vodder Association:

Connective Tissue Characteristics, Features, Functions

Connective tissue has a nerve supply except for cartilage and is highly vascular except for cartilage and tendons.  It consists of three basic elements:

  1. Cells

  2. Ground Substance

  3. Fibers (collagen, elastin and reticular

The ground substance or matrix may be fluid, semifluid, gelatinous, or calcified.  The matrix is secreted by the connective tissue cells and adjacent cells and determines the tissues qualities.

The thixotrophic effect is the ability of connective tissue to become more fluid when it is stirred up (sol) and more solid when it sits undisturbed (gel).

Collagen is the main ingredient of connective tissue.  It is hollow and may contain cerebral spinal fluid.  It is important in regeneration, growth, wound healing and it can migrate to any point in the body and adjust to internal chemistry in response to local conditions.  It can create specific forms of structural tissue appropriate to that area.

The functions of connective tissue are to bind, support and strengthen.  It supports movement and aids in posture.  It allows for compression, lengthening and stretching, twisting and rotational movements.  It absorbs shock and disperses stress/load associated with movement throughout the body.  It supports the process of wound healing, growth, and regeneration. It gives rise to cells that store fat, ingest bacteria and cell debris, form anticoagulants or give rise to antibodies that protect against disease.

Muscle is elastic, fascia is plastic.  Stretched a muscle will attempt to recoil back to its resting length.  Stretch fascia quickly and it will tear (the most frequent form of connective tissue injury.)  If the stretch is applied slowly enough, it will deform plastically: it will change it’s length and retain that change. Fascia does not snap back although over time and given the opportunity, it will lay down new fibers which will rebind the area. 

The plasticity of fascia is its essential nature- it’s gift to the body and the key to unraveling it’s long term patterns.

               -Tom Myers.  Anatomy Trains

Features of Connective Tissue:

  • most abundant tissue in the body

  • binds together and supports other body tissues

  • protects and insulates internal organs

  • acts in transporting nutrients

  • stores energy

  • consists of 3 basic elements- cells, ground substance and fibers

  • ground substance and fibers form the matrix

  • connective tissue cells are separated by the matrix

  • most have a nerve supply except for cartilage

  • highly vascular for the most part except for cartilage and tendons

  • matrix can be fluid, semifluid, gelatinous or calcified.

  • different types of fibers that are embedded in the matrix give CT different properties

Major Types of Connective Tissue Cells:

( ending in blast – immature class: divide and secrete into the matrix.
ending in cyte – mature cells formed from blasts run the matrix)

  1. Fibroblasts – greatest in numbers. Produce different kinds of fibers in CT like elastin and colloagen

  2. Macrophages – macro means large, phagein means to eat- engulf bacteria and debris by phagocytosis

  3. Plasma Cells– secrete antibodies for immunity

  4. Mast Cells – release histamine which is part of the inflammatory process

  5. Adipocytes and leukocytes(white blood cells) are also present in CT

Connective Tissue Matrix

Ground Substance -can change forms. Can be a fluid, gel or solid.  Healthy ground substance is gelatinous and can absorb forces from movement of the body and is like a shock absorber.  When ground substance is thicker the myofascia tightens.  Ground substance provides space between CT fibers to prevent adhesions.

Fibers – Collagen, Elastic, Reticular

Types of Connective Tissue

  1. Loose Connective Tissue- loosely woven.
    Areolar found in the skin, blood vessels, mucous membranes. strength, elasticity and support. }

    “‘Loose’ connective tissue forms a network extending throughout the body including subcutaneous and interstitial connective tissues. The existence of a cellular network of fibroblasts within loose connective tissue may have considerable significance as it may support yet unknown body-wide cellular signaling systems. …Our findings indicate that soft tissue fibroblasts form an extensively interconnected cellular network, suggesting they may have important, and so far unsuspected integrative functions at the level of the whole body.” (Langevin et. al. 2004)

    Adiopose – fat tissue stores triglycerides. Reticular CT forms organs.

  2. Dense Connective Tissue- have more fibers and fewer fibers than  loose CT.
    Dense regular CT – ordered, parallel CT gives strength. Found in tendons and ligaments.
    Dense Irregular CT – collagen without order. found in skin
    Elastic CT- freely branching elastic fibers in lungs and arteries.

  3. Cartilage- tough connective tissue.  Ground substance is condroitin sulfate. No blood vessels or nerves.
    Hyaline Cartilage- covers ends of long bones
    Fibrocartilage- intervertebral discs
    Elastic Cartilage – external ear

 

The connective tissue forms the three dimensional appearance of the body.  If you remove all of the tissue in the body except for the connective tissue,

 you would still be able to see the shape of the body.  You would still be able to see the skeleton and the shape of the muscles along with the blood vessels and capillaries. 

 The organs and duct systems would be intact along with the central nervous system.  Connective tissue does just that – connects the body from head to toe and from the skin to the deepest part of the bones.

Connective tissue has a rich blood supply except for cartilage.  That is the reason why it is hard to heal cartilage.  CT cells have a multitude of jobs in the body -from storing fat, ingesting bacteria and protect against disease.  CT is an essential ingredient in health but is one of the least studied.

CT is found in the interstitial spaces of all structures of the body.  It forms the membranes through which the body uses to deliver nutrients and remove waste products from normal cellular metabolism.  Tissue tension, adhesions and lesions within the tissue can lead to interference with the distribution of body fluids essential for life and can influence organ function. 

CT is also known as fascia. It allows compression, lengthening and stretching as well as twisting and rotational movement of the body.  It acts as a shock absorber to reduce the impact of movement.  If fascia is restricted, the elastic ability is reduced and the potential for trauma or injury is increased.

Ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, fascia and bone all fall into the category of connective tissue.  CT is made up of collagenous and reticular fibers, elastic fibers, fibrin and ground substance.  These tissues work together to allow movement.  CT can become adhered to adjoining structures and itself affecting the range of motion in movement.

Healing injury or trauma to the body requires the formation of connective tissue.  The process of inflammation is what actually starts the healing process.  During the healing process, adhesions can form which bind the injured area to other connective tissues.

Connective tissue may become thickened or too thin.  It may dry out or become over hydrated.  Managing connective tissue is the goal of a massage therapist.  Some methods address the ground substance – the part that liquefies with more movement and turns more solid (gel).  Some types of massage address the fibers within the ground substance such as the fascia.  Slow effleurage or other gliding methods as well as kneading, pettrissage and skin rolling can help stretch the fibers.

Connective Tissue

Connective Tissue is a metamembrane.  It is one continuous substance in its various shapes and consistencies. 

Every part of the body is connected to every other part by the network of connective tissue.  If you were to remove all of the other elements of the body except the connective tissue there would remain a 3D shape. The shape of the musculature would be preserved by connective tissue sheaths of the muscle fibers and the intramuscular walls.  The form of the blood vessels and capillaries would remain.  The organs would retain their duct system and general conformation and would continue to be supported by peritoneal attachments.  Even the central nervous system would retain it’s form.  Connective tissue is essentially one solid piece of tissue from heat to toe, from superficial fascia of the skin to the marrow of the bones.

Connective Tissue constitutes the immediate environment of every cell in the body by wrapping and uniting all structures with it’s moist fibrous, cohering sheets and strands.  (Deahne Juhan.  Job’s Body)

Types of Connective Tissue includes:

  • blood

  • lymph

  • tendons

  • ligaments

  • cartilage

  • cornea of the eye

  • nerve and blood vessel sheathes

  • myofascia surrounding each muscle

  • periosteum covering of the bones

  • areolar connective tissue lining joint cavities

  • adipose tissue

  • bone

Unhealthy connective tissue may be caused by things like malnutrition, trauma, injury, pathology, fatigue, stress, sedentary lifestyle and the agind process.

It may lead to some of the following things:

  • decreased fluid volume by build up of toxins and other metabolites

  • a continuous gel state of ground substance

  • adhesions

  • decreased flexibility and rigidity of tissues which has a greater risk for microtears, scar tissue and broadening and thickening of tissue

  • decreased ROM

  • tissues become colder and less energized

  • If fascia is restricted at time of trauma, the forces cannot be dispersed properly and areas of the body are subject to an intolerable impact

Healthy connective tissue is flexible and easily softened.  It is maintained by proper nutrition, proper hydration, stretching, physical work, exercise and massage.

If you wish to change the relationships among the bones, change the tensional balance through the soft tissue and the bones will rearrange themselves.  -Tom Myers, Anatomy Trains

Characteristics and Function

Connective tissue has a nerve supply except for cartilage and is highly vascular except for cartilage and tendons.  It consists of three basic elements:

  1. Cells

  2. Ground Substance

  3. Fibers (collagen, elastin and reticular

The ground substance or matrix may be fluid, semifluid, gelatinous, or calcified.  The matrix is secreted by the connective tissue cells and adjacent cells and determines the tissues qualities.

The thixotrophic effect is the ability of connective tissue to become more fluid when it is stirred up (sol) and more solid when it sits undisturbed (gel).

Collagen is the main ingredient of connective tissue.  It is hollow and may contain cerebral spinal fluid.  It is important in regeneration, growth, wound healing and it can migrate to any point in the body and adjust to internal chemistry in response to local conditions.  It can create specific forms of structural tissue appropriate to that area.

The functions of connective tissue are to bind, support and strengthen.  It supports movement and aids in posture.  It allows for compression, lengthening and stretching, twisting and rotational movements.  It absorbs shock and disperses stress/load associated with movement throughout the body.  It supports the process of wound healing, growth, and regeneration. It gives rise to cells that store fat, ingest bacteria and cell debris, form anticoagulants or give rise to antibodies that protect against disease.

Muscle is elastic, fascia is plastic.  Stretched a muscle will attempt to recoil back to its resting length.  Stretch fascia quickly and it will tear (the most frequent form of connective tissue injury.)  If the stretch is applied slowly enough, it will deform plastically: it will change it’s length and retain that change. Fascia does not snap back although over time and given the opportunity, it will lay down new fibers which will rebind the area. 

The plasticity of fascia is its essential nature- it’s gift to the body and the key to unraveling it’s long term patterns.

               -Tom Myers.  Anatomy Trains

Fascia is the organ of posture. Nobody ever says this; all the talk is about muscles.
Yet this is a very important concept…especially the anatomy of fascia.
The body is a web of fascia. A spider web is in a plane; our body’s web is in a sphere.
We can trace the lines of that web to get an understanding of how what we see in a body works.
-Dr. Ida P. Rolf

Fascia

Fascia is the type of connective tissue that covers the muscles of the body. It is composed of collagen, elastin and a ground substance of protein chains

which produce a sol/gel substance.  Fascia means band or bandage in latin.  It gives the body it’s form. Fascia forms and supports the body.  It also restricts and provides boundaries.  It covers the muscles helping to provide more strength. It helps in repairing the body.  It can be in the healing process that the problems of pain in the body begin.  The healing process itself can lead to adhesions in the tissue which bind and restrict movement and can lead to fibrosis.

“The fascia of the body is continuous from head to toe.  You can travel from the top of your head to your liver, spleen or right malleolus (ankle) without ever leaving fascia.  All the viscera during development in the embryo migrate and carry their fascia with them.  Fascia glides easily when subjected to gentle traction. Inflammation, adhesion, postural stress and somatic dysfunction all interfere with the free gliding of the fascia”.  ~John Upledger

Wikipedia defines fascia as this:

A fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding those structures together like plastic sandwich wraps. It consists of several layers: a superficial fascia, a deep fascia, and a subserous (or visceral) fascia and extends uninterrupted from the head to the tip of the toes.

Fascia is the fascinating biological fabric and glue that holds us together.  Long ignored, the fascial system is now getting its rightful due of attention, from both therapists and researchers. ~ Thomas Myers, Anatomy Trains

When you are working on muscles you are working on fascia.  There is no separating the two.

Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction by Janet Travell, M.D, beautifully illustrates that there is a myofascial element to most everything as every muscle of the body is surrounded by a smooth fascial sheath, every muscular fascicule is surrounded by fascia, every fibril is surrounded by fascia, and every micro-fibril down to the cellular level is surrounded by fascia that can exert pressures of over 2,000 pounds per square inch. Therefore, it is the fascia that can ultimately determine the length and function of its muscular component.

Connective Tissue – Articles and Resources

Books:

Myofascial Release: The Search for Excellence–A Comprehensive Evaluatory and Treatment Approach (A Comprehensive

 Evaluatory and Treatment Approach)– By John Barnes creator of the Myofascial Release method

Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists – by Thomas Myers.  Puts together the many different myofascial connections and make it very clear how our bodies are really connected.

The Myofascial Release Manual – Great handbook that really explains the history of myofascial release and the many disciplines as well as how to do myofascial release

Job’s Body: A Handbook for Bodywork (Third Edition)– the definitive handbook on the body that reads more like a novel.

The Endless Web: Fascial Anatomy and Physical Reality

DVD’s

Beginning Myofascial Release DVD~ Sean Riehl

Advanced Myofascial Release DVD~ Sean Riehl

Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release: A Video Guide to Techniques– Art Riggs

Articles Online:

The Science of Massage Soft-tissue Techniques By Cathy Ulrich.  Massage and Bodywork Magazine
Metamembrane #3: The Connective Tissue as Metamembrane

Anatomist’s Corner By Thomas Myers Massage and Bodywork MagazineKey elements of connective tissue massage By John Latz AMTA Journal

Discovering the Mastery in the Art of Connective Tissue Massage, Part One By John Latz Massage Today

Discovering Mastery in the Art of Connective Tissue Massage, Part II By John Latz

The Amazing Fascial Web, Part I By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO Massage Today

The Amazing Fascial Web, Part II By Leon Chaitow, ND, DO Massage Today

Connective tissue cells are lousy at contraction, so-so as conductors, but they secrete and amazing variety of products into the intercellular space that contribute to our bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons.  In other words, it is these cells which create the surroundings for all of the others, building the strong, pliable ‘stuff’ which holds us together, forming the shared and communicative environment for all our cells-what Varela termed a form of ‘exo-symbiosis’- shaping us and allowing us directed movement.  -Tom Myers, Anatomy Trains

Anatomy and Physiology of Skeletal Muscles

Anatomy and Physiology of Skeletal Muscle

Nerve Supply – Motor Neurons stimulates muscle contraction

Blood Supply – Capillaries supply oxygen and nutrients

Connective Tissue Components :

Fascia
Superficial fascia – Store water and fat, insulator, protection, pathway for nerves and blood vessels

Deep Fascia (Dense irregular connective tissue)- Holds the muscle fibers together and separates them into 3 groups – Endomysium which surrounds the individual muscle cell, Perimysium which surrounds several muscle cells and the Epimysium which surrounds the entire muscle.

 

Tendon Sheath – Covers tendons (ends of muscles) and secretes synovial fluid for lubrication.

Parts of the Muscle Cell

  1.   Sarcolemma – Cell membrane of a muscle cell encases cytoplasm and oranelles.
  2. Sarcoplasm – Cytoplasm of the muscle cell and surrounds the organelles.
  3. Sarcoplamic Reticulum – contains sarcomeres. Stores and releases calcium needed for muscle contraction.  Has Transverse Tubules to connect the cell membrane to the inside of the cell.  The T tubule helps spread the action potential or the nerve impulse into and out of the cell.
  4. Muscle cells have many nuclei and many mitochondria
  5. Myofibrils – composed of myofilaments.  Each muscle fiber contains myofibrils and each myofibril has thousands of myofilaments.     Actin, myosin, tropomysosin, troponin.  Actin and Myosin are attracted to each other.

Sarcomeres – are composed of myosin and actin filaments

Neuromuscular Junction – motor neurons connect with the nerve axon at the motor end plate. The end of the nerve axons are synaptic end bulbs which contain synaptic vesicles that store neurotransmitters – acetylcholine. The synaptic cleft is the space between the motor neuron and motor end plate.

Motor Unit – single motor neuron and the muscle it innervates.

Naming Skeletal Muscles

Individual muscles and muscle groups have been named using many different categories:

  1. By fiber and direction – External Obliques: at an oblique angle.  Rectus Femoris: Straight muscle
  2. By Location – Biceps Brachii: on the bracial or upper arm.  Biceps Femoris: on the femur (leg)
  3. By size. Glutues Maximus: Large.  Gluteus Minimus: Small
  4. By number of heads of the muscle.  Biceps Brachii has two heads.  Triceps Brachii has three heads.
  5. By the shape of the muscle.  Teres Major – teres is round or cylindrical.  Trapezius meaning ‘flat table’ in Greek.  Deltoid meaning a triangular shape.
  6. By the action.  Adductor longus – adducts. Levator Scapula – elevates scapula

 

Fiber arrangement and Function.

The shape of the muscle fibers and the size also help determine the function of a muscle.  Long fibers tend to produce a large range of motion but little force while short fibers produce short range of motion and greater force. The fiber arrangements and the number of fibers also contribute to the function of muscles.

Categories of fiber arrangements:

  1. Fusiform – Long fibers, long movements that are not forceful
  2. Pennate – Uni, Bi, Multi are feather shaped, short muscles and lie at an angle to the muscle and attach to one or more tendons that run the whole length of the muscle.
  3. Flat – flat, narrow attachment to a broad attachment like the trapezius or lattissimus dorsi
  4. Biceps – Two heads fuse into a single muscle belly as in the Biceps femoris
  5. Multi-bellied. one origin and one insertion but multiple bellies and intermediate tendons between the bellies as in the Rectus Abdominus
  6. Convergent -multiple fibers and points of origin converge into one point of insertion forming a triangle, like the Deltoid and pectoralis major.
  7. Parallel – long and oriented parallel with the muscle
  8. Circular – concentric rings around external body openings like sphincters

Names of Muscles by function

Mover – agonist – concentric contractions moving through  specified plane.  Prime mover

Antagonist – move opposite of the mover or agonist, usually located on the opposite side of the body/joint.  relaxes when the agonist contracts allowing movement.

Synergist – helper, neutralizer or stablizer.  aka guiding muscles

Fixator or stabilizer – isometrically contracts to support or stabilize the mover while it moves.

Neutralizer – stops the agonist from moving, work through isometric contractions

Support muscle -acts at other places than where the movement is occurring to hold something in position.

 

Learning the Muscles of the Body

Learning the muscles of the body is one of the basic courses in massage school.  After you learn the basics of how the cells and how the fibers work and how they form muscles and groups of muscles you can start putting it all together.

You also need to know the basics of the skeletal system and how the bones and joints work to form levers that allow the movement to happen.  The joints of the body are designed for range of motion rather than strength.  Muscles attach near the joint and the muscles create a pulley system.  Ligaments provide stability and act to guide movement and also limit movement.  Muscle tension will affect the range of motion.  Hypertonic muscles with abnormal tone and hypotonic muscles lacking tone, will influence motion.  There are various types of movement that the bones, joints and muscles create.

So learning where the muscles attach to the bones can help you in learning how muscles move the body.  I have created a series of charts to help you learn the names of the muscles, their origin and insertions and what movement they are involved in.

Head and Neck Muscles

Chest and Trunk Muscles

Forearm and hand

Shoulder and arm

Pelvis/ Hip

Leg Muscles

The Muscular System

Learning the Muscular system – how muscles work, how movement is created and everything related to muscles, is the foundation of massage therapy school and also of being a successful massage therapist.  It begins with just learning the basic things like muscle cells structure and how the cells form fibers and what makes muscles contract.

You will learn the basics of the muscular system in massage school:

 

It will be an ongoing process really as you learn to apply how muscles move and work together to create various movements and apply them to peoples daily lives.  Even a person sitting at a desk all day, has muscular problems related to movement.  Being able to take what you know about muscles and apply them to any situation – from sitting, sleeping, hiking, golfing, tennis, knitting, walking, driving the car, sitting in a plane seat and everything we do basically as people – will help you be a more successful massage therapist.