Myofascial Strength Training

Using the myofascial lines in our training gives us a unique perspective on how best to mitigate force, save energy and build endurance while improving multijoint mobility and strength. Training the body as a whole in three dimensions, as opposed to training isolated, segmented parts, may be a missing link in the exercise programs of people looking to maintain or improve the integrity of their bodies. As a fitness professional, you can now use functional anatomy to give clients functional results.

Application: Training the Myofascial Lines

Training the myofascial lines with whole-body exercises has unique benefits. It dissipates force throughout the entire system, minimizing excessive isolated joint tension while giving our joints freedom to move in all three planes of motion and improving total-body awareness and coordination. Choosing exercises that vary in direction, force and speed also promotes fascial health.

Myofascial Lines and Their Functions

To ease into an understanding of how to place force through these lines, we will explore the superficial front and back lines, the lateral lines and the spiral lines. To place force through a line, the line must first load to unload, or stretch to shorten. This allows us to take advantage of the viscoelastic properties of fascia, helping us generate and transmit force throughout the entire body while minimizing energy expenditure. Based on the force profile (mass, acceleration, momentum, direction and application) of a given exercise, we can emphasize which myofascial line to upregulate (load).

Superficial Back Line
Primary Function: To maintain erect posture. Endurance-based.
How to Load It (Load to Unload, Stretch to Shorten): Drive body into flexion.

Superficial Front Line
Primary Function: To maintain posture. Fast-twitch dominant; protects ventral cavity.
How to Load It (Load to Unload, Stretch to Shorten): Drive body into extension.

Lateral Lines
Primary Function: To maintain stability during lateral and rotational movement. Supports other lines.
How to Load Them (Load to Unload, Stretch to Shorten): Drive body laterally.

Spiral Lines
Primary Function: To create and control rotations through the body.
How to Load Them (Load to Unload, Stretch to Shorten): Drive body into rotation.

Sample Exercises: Body Weight Anterior Lunges

The following sample exercises place tension on specific myofascial lines. We cannot isolate myofascial lines during a movement, but we can emphasize an upregulation of a particular line based on our basic understanding of biomechanics, so you may notice multiple lines being loaded within a given exercise.

Using the arms as a driver, we can upregulate any myofascial line during a simple anterior lunge. This is a great way to enhance total-body flexibility, stability and/or strength depending on how the acute variables are manipulated.

Superficial Front Line: Lunge With Overhead Reach

Setup:
Start with feet hip/shoulder width apart.

Movement:

  1. Take step forward, and while driving pelvis toward floor, reach overhead with arms.
  2. Focus on driving front knee forward while keeping trunk erect.
  3. Return to start position and repeat with opposing leg.
Regression: Start in staggered stance and eliminate step.
Progression: Look up while reaching overhead.


Superficial Back Line: Lunge With Knee-Height Reach

Setup:
Start with feet hip/shoulder width apart.

Movement:
  1. Take step forward, and while driving pelvis toward floor, reach arms down in front of knees.
  2. Reach from scapulae and allow thoracic spine to flex while hips and knees flex (flex with rhythm).
  3. Return to start position and repeat with opposing leg.
Regression: Start in staggered stance and eliminate step.
Progression: Look down while performing exercise to load line more.


Lateral Line: Lunge With Overhead Lateral Reach

Setup:
Start with feet hip/shoulder width apart.

Movement:
  1. Take step forward, and while driving pelvis toward floor, reach arms overhead and to same side as anterior leg.
  2. Allow hips to move in opposite direction from arms.
  3. Return to start position and repeat with opposing leg.
Regression: Start in staggered stance and eliminate step.
Progression: Drive same-side arm as anterior leg away from body and toward floor.


Spiral Line: Lunge With Chest-Height Cross-Body Reach

Setup:
Start with feet hip/shoulder width apart.

Movement:
  1. Take step forward, and while driving pelvis toward floor, reach arms across body at chest height and toward same side as anterior leg.
  2. Be sure to keep big toe of both feet on ground and allow hips (not just torso) to move with rotation.
  3. Return to start position and repeat with opposing leg.
Regression: Start in staggered stance and eliminate step.
Progression: Drive arms away from anterior leg.

For a more in-depth review of myofascial lines, as well as several additional exercises, please see the complete article, “Whole-Body Strength Training Using Myofascial Lines,” in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2012 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

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Derrick Price, MS

IDEA Author/Presenter
Derrick Price MS, CPT, PES, CES has been active on many levels in the fitness industry for over 8 ye... more less
June 2012

© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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