Twist and Shout!

When we look at or talk about anatomical structures or humans in general, it feels like sometimes that there is a disconnect between us and the rest of nature.

It’s as if the rest of the animal kingdom exists in separation to that of the human species.  Certainly we don’t seem to be ‘at one’ with our environment, as countless examples of environmental vandalism bear witness and it feels like we set ourselves aside as different or special in some way.

The  human condition strives for a desperate sense of order.  Straight lines and linear ideas rule our thinking and understanding and we cut swathes of rod like structures out of surroundings where nothing is ever in a straight line.

Nature abhors a straight line however.  In straightness there is weakness and angles that will instigate collapse more readily than support.  When we see a tree, a plant, a bush or a bird flying, we are seeing movements of spirals and curves in action.

Humans are no different.  A skeleton (as much as a skeleton exists by itself), is a myriad of curves and offset angles with thankfully absolutely no horizontals that would cause us to dislocate our joints.

The structure of the tissues that hold us together, connective issues, are prime examples of non-linear tissues.  Collagen is the most common protein in the body and the collagen fibres that form our fascia and much of our connective tissue coiled and spring like, giving our bodies the elastic recoil that allows us to absorb forces and tensions.

Collagen is a triple helix structure.  Three thin strands wind themselves together to form a spiral type structure which, when fully formed, is stronger pound for pound than steel rope.  These helices don’t follow the line of muscle travelling around the body, but instead criss cross muscle and bone in a myriad of different directions.

Where muscle has a start and an end point, the collagen based fascia doesn’t.  Overlapping standard muscle insertions, the fascia invariably carries on from the end of one muscle and into the beginning of another.

This picture shows the adductor longus fascia as it traverses the pubic symphysis and continues in to the fascia of both the rectus abdominus and external oblique.  The temptation is to assign function or meaning to this kind of continuity and whilst it can be fun to do, there is little to be gained except to appreciate fascial continuity.

Example of Fascial continuity.

Adductor Longus Fascia overlapping the pubis

This kind of relationship is not unusual in the body and is not just surface tissue either.  It dips and dives into the pockets of muscle tissue, creating divisions; ceilings and walls that give the muscle a container in which to operate.

Muscle relies entirely on fascia for its integrity. Without the fascia, the muscle would have no form and no integrity and would be unable to function.