Walking in a straight line!
Adverse tension in the Lateral Line (LTL) affects our ability to move & hides pain and dysfunction locked in the body.
The Lateral Line of connective tissue (fascia), and associated muscles, bracket each side of the body from the mid-point of the foot around the outside of the ankle and up the lateral aspect of the leg and thigh. The LTL passes along the trunk in a ‘basket weave’ or shoelace pattern under the shoulder to the skull into the region of the ear.
Traditionally we are taught to consider these structures individually such as the muscles of the hip (Glute Medius), or the Iliotibial Band (ITB) along the side of the leg which has been a long-time associate of knee pain and dysfunction.
When these areas become problematic or produce pain it is easy to look locally or above and below the presentation site for a solution to the dysfunction. However, let’s consider for a moment why that area is under stress. Let’s consider that body structure, whether it be muscle, tendon, ligament, to be part of one singular connection and not merely a list of separate structures co-existing next to one another.
The myofascial meridian of the Lateral Line looks to give explanation to this. As seen in the image above the structures on the side of the body are all connected by their myofascial web. One continuous fabric of tissues both superficial and deeply invested, giving the more traditionally individualised body structures continuity, and a role to play in the body posture and bio-mechanics.
Acting like a break, the Lateral Line is used to stabilise the body from excessive lateral shifts and rotations, given our predominantly sagittal movement such as walking, running, and squatting.
In other words, when are failing to keep things in a straight line, we can look for limitations along the Lateral Line!
In posture, the lateral line works to bring balance to the front and the back of the body, and bilaterally to balance left and right. The great intuitive mediator, the Lateral Line of muscles act to prevent the body from buckling as we drive ourselves forward performing everyday tasks. It endeavours to hold us straight, up right, in a strong and confident posture. In movement the Lateral Line participates in creating a side bend of the trunk, abduction of the hip, and eversion of the foot. In turn we look for changes in lateral line when considering pain and dysfunction in the body that may relate to a shift in the way the lateral line functions.
Familiar structures of the Lateral Line include:
The Iliotibial Tract (ITB)
The abductor muscles – Gluteal Max
The lower back
Related soft tissue considerations when there is a change in the lateral line include:
Lower Back Pain
Runner Knee (ITB Syndrome)
Performance limitations may include:
Changes in gait (walking, running)
Changes in movement mechanics – shifting Left or Right during Squatting or Deadlifting
Adversely affecting arm movements – throwing, swinging rackets, reaching overhead
Assessing the Lateral Line in Function:
Think of how you walk … Observe how you squat …
Do you stay on a straight line, or do you shift from side to side?
Do you side bend to one side when you lunge?
Do you find it hard to stretch to one side in the morning?
Does one side of your body feel stronger or more stable than the other?
The answers to these questions can often be found once we consider areas of restrictions in the connective tissues (fascia) of the body. By assessing posture and movement patterning we look for tilts, shifts, bends, and rotations in the body. Here we can then see where the fascia is holding these postures, and then look to unravel the distortions.
Structural Bodywork is a form of soft tissue therapy we use to assess and treat the effects of this adverse tension found in the body.
See link here below for a further explanation of Structural Bodywork at Absolute Health & Performance.
I think to better explain this a case study example will prove to be very helpful:
Absolute Health & Performance Coach Mike had been reporting performance limitations during his overhead squat pattern, and a lack of control at times during more functional training patterns such running and box jumps. Although he hasn’t yet reported pain, he decides that prevention is better than the cure and we decide to explore movement through his lateral line Left and Right in a standing, kneeling, and half kneel position.
See the link here for an introduction to the fascia, and myofascial release technique.
Please note: When assessing from a soft tissue perspective we take a full subjective and objective medical history first. Pre-existing conditions, yellow and red flags, and other general health considerations such as vascular, neurological, and hormonal issues are all taken in to account. Lifestyle factors, sleep, stress, commitments, habits, recreations, are all taken into consideration.
Postural and functional assessments post treatment showed Mike moving more fluently. His squat pattern looked more symmetrical while subjectively Mike reported less compression and distortion through his Right Lateral Line.
Myofascial release through Mikes Lateral Line has proven to clear some room for greater movement and importantly deceased the potential for injury.
As a soft tissue therapist at Absolute Health & Performance, I work with a cross section of the community looking for where restrictions are being held in the connective tissue system that lead to pain and dysfunction elsewhere in the body.
To improve posture, increase your potential for performance, or to help prevent injury, consider structural bodywork from Absolute Health & Performance.
Written By Soft Tissue Therapist James Meredith