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Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians

What are the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians?

Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians can be used to see how pain in your neck may be connected to an imbalance in your pelvis, or how the fallen arch in your foot can be contributing to the pain in your lower back.

The Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians are connections through the fascial fabric of your body. They are potential lines of pull which can distribute strain, transmit force and affect the structure and function of your body.

Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians can be used by manual and movement practitioners to see how one structure affects other distant structures in the body.

Who developed the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians?

The Anatomy Trains were developed by Tom Myers in the 1990s when he was teaching Anatomy to students at the Rolfing school of Structural Integration. Tom originally trained in Structural Integration in the 1970s with Ida Rolf the founder of this style of bodywork. Ida Rolf was one of the first people to start talking about the importance of fascia, and how it affects our structure and function.

What determines the existence of a Myofascial Meridian?

For a line of connection to qualify to be a myofascial meridian the connection has to follow the grain in the fascial fabric in more or less a straight line without breaks or changing level.

What inspired the idea?

The inspiration for the Anatomy Trains model came from an article Tom Myers was introduced to by professor James Oschman written by professor Raymond Dart. In the article, there was a diagram showing how the muscles around the trunk could be linked together in a double spiral arrangement. After seeing this picture Tom Myers thought why not take the connections further and he started to look at how the muscles, linked by the fascia, can be seen as continual lines of connection throughout the body.

Most Anatomy books at the time were still using the single muscle theory but Tom Myers remembered how his teacher Ida Rolf was always stressing that everything was connected through the fascia. He began to develop and systemize these connections and use them when teaching his students, eventually ending up with a map of 11 myofascial meridians, which he named the Anatomy Trains. The Anatomy Trains include:

  • The superficial front line
  • The superficial back line
  • The lateral line
  • The spiral line
  • The deep front line
  • The superficial front arm lines
  • The deep front arm lines
  • The superficial back arm lines
  • The deep back arm lines
  • The front functional line
  • The back functional line

Tom began using his Anatomy Trains connections when assessing his client’s posture in his private Rolfing practice and began to build his Structural Bodywork sessions around them. Over time this evolved into the Anatomy Trains Structural Integration series.

What is the Anatomy Trains Structural Integration series?

The Anatomy Trains Structural Integration series is grounded in the work of Ida Rolf. She was a 20th-century scientist who had studied biochemistry but also had an interest in modalities like Osteopathy, Feldenkrais Technique and Hatha Yoga.

She believed that the fascia had a strong influence on our health and in particular our structure and how we function and move. She started to use hands-on techniques in an attempt to try and manipulate the fascia to improve the posture and function of her patients. Over many years of study and working with her patients Dr Rolf developed her work into a series of 10 manual therapy sessions which she called Structural Integration.

As mentioned earlier in this article Tom Myers trained with Ida Rolf and had been working with her structural Integration approach for a number of years. As Tom began to develop and evolve the Myofascial Meridians into his Rolfing practise and adapt his Rolfing sessions around these meridians AnatomyTrains Structural Integration was born.

The 12 sessions of Anatomy Trains Structural Integration

Each of the 12 sessions in the Anatomy Trains Structural Integration series uses the Anatomy Trains model to help the practitioner identify where the myofascia (muscles and fascia) are tight and pulling you out of alignment.

The first four sessions

Each of the first four sessions focuses on the front, back, lateral and spiral lines, undoing any pulls, strain or restrictions within them.

The middle four sessions

The middle four sessions are dedicated to releasing myofascial restrictions in the deep front line which is the core line running from your feet to your head. These sessions are virtually the same as the core session work in Ida Rolfs original program.

These first eight sessions are all about undoing restrictions and tightness in the fascial fabric. They are focused on allowing parts of your body to move with freedom. For example, being able to reach your arm above your head without restriction in your shoulder or a pulling feeling down into the side of your body.

The final four sessions

The final four sessions are less focussed on specific lines and more about putting things back together to integrate the work of the first 8 sessions. They remind us that although we are made up of different parts that these parts need to work fluidly and coherently in an organised way and that they are integrated.

Also included in the final sessions are the arm lines which are looked at in detail in session 11. Dr Rolf had always said that the arms got short swift in her original 10 session series and so Tom Myers has dedicated session 11 to working on the arms and shoulders and integrating them with the rest of the body.

Anatomy Trains in 2020

Over the years what began as a game to teach his students the connections through the myofascia has developed into a recognised and respected model for helping manual and movement practitioners around the world to see unexpected connections of strain in their clients and patients bodies. In 2001 Tom Myers published his first book on the Anatomy Trains it is now in its 3rd edition and as of 2016 has sold in excess of 100,000 copies. Over my next few blogs, I will take you on a journey of each of the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians.