A Day with Anatomy Trains Author Tom Myers

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A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to spend a morning with Tom Myers, author of the amazing book Anatomy Trains.  Tom came to speak to my staff to review his research and theories on fascia and the anatomy trains concept.  We had an amazing day and learned a lot about Tom’s works.

He has a very unique understanding of how the muscles relate to one another as he has personally dissected many cadavers to specifically asses the fascial system.   One of the many take home messages that I took away that day included:

Muscles are only separate in photos in anatomy books.  In real life they are connected spiraling fascial tissue.

That is a great way of thinking about it.  Muscles are separated for simplicity when we discuss and learn about their function.  However, we really don’t learn the anatomy well when we look at the body from this simple approach.  This is an area that we need further research to better understand, but the next thought we should be focusing on is not just what happens at a joint when muscle contracts, but what happens to the surrounding and connecting muscles and soft tissue.

The other interesting point that stuck out to me, among the many, was Tom’s comment that:

Movement becomes habit, which becomes posture, which becomes structure

That’s a great way of putting the chronic soft tissue dysfunction that we are developing over time do to our poor postures and habits.

IMG_0044But we did more than just talk about fascia and the Anatomy Trains concept, we also practiced some soft tissue techniques.  Considering we have been talking about the pec minor so much the last few months (best pec minor stretch and new pec minor stretch, I wanted to share a techniques from Tom.  This is more of a deep tissue release but it’s all in the positioning.  With the patient supine, get down low next to the table with your forearm actually touching the table.  This will position you so that you force is directed inward but also superiorly up along to the rib cage.  You should then be able to slide your fingers in deep underneath the pec major to palpate and release the pec minor.  Pretty good approach.

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If you haven’t read the Anatomy Trains book, time to get on board and learn how muscles throughout the body interact.  Also, be sure to check out the anatomy trains website and Tom Myers’s own blog for more details.  Here is a quick video on some more info on the anatomy trains concepts:

Anatomy Trains
14 replies
  1. Ian Willows - Strength & Conditioning Coach and Co-owner Vital2 Ltd
    Ian Willows - Strength & Conditioning Coach and Co-owner Vital2 Ltd says:

    My colleague and I have been reading through Thomas Myers book 'Anatomy Trains'. His book and his knowledge is based on scientific evidence i.e. cadever dissection as stated above. We have been using his book for the myofascial work we do and a lot of injury rehabilitation with our clients and members. The outcome of this has been extremely good and challenge those to read it before passing judgement. We work with a few well respected Osteopaths and having spoken with them, Thomas Myers book is on the reading list on many Universities in the UK for Osteopathy and Physiotherapy. There are no reasons why you can't administer some of these techniques even if you are a Personal Trainer of Fitness Instructor. I congratulate those that have read and properly applied this information with someone that may have been in pain, injured or has movement dysfunction. if you are not comfortable applying this with a female then my suggestion is don't do it. I would practice until you become comfortable using this technique or others. Regards the question about are we really causing mechanical deformation or neurophysiological effect. The answer is both. Tghtnesses in the soft tissues creates impaired articulation of the joint, length tension relationships, force-coupling and in turn effects the neuromuscular system as tightness causes blockage for neural drive i.e. decreased strength/force production hence injury.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I have done that technique with many female clients. They have no problems with the work so long as the therapist has clear boundaries. Tom has thought through quite a bit more than most of you will ever know. He is dedicated to bolstering his ideas and techniques with science and function. Anyone who has taken the time to read his work or sit in a classroom knows this.

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    How would you do this with a female client if you are a male trainer? Tom didn't think of that, did he? Also, this technique should be reserved for physical therapists only, NOT trainers.

  4. Mike Reinold
    Mike Reinold says:

    Wondering if the anonymous commented above would like to comment more on how the anatomy trains concepts helped with treating a positive slump? What exactly did you do for treatments and how did the patient respond? Pretty interesting. I have found patients with some neuro tension signs that i have felt this way about as well, just wondering more of your thoughts. Thanks!

  5. Maria Mountain
    Maria Mountain says:

    Having attended a great course that Tom conducted in NYC – I think he would be the very last person to pursue "guru" status. Tom is a soft tissue worker who bases his practice on actual anatomical dissection and objective observation of the structures and systems of the body. Guru? Definitely not. Visionary? Absolutely!

    Look through his material, try some of his techniques and decide for yourself if it is helpful for your clients.

  6. Mike Reinold
    Mike Reinold says:

    I would also say that I have seen Tom's anatomical dissections and it really is amazing. He isn't trying to preach a new "treatment approach." He is simple educating people on how the fascial system works and how different muscles throughout the body are linked. You can use whatever treatment approach you want. You are crazy to not at least consider this and at least read his work.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I had the pleasure of reading Myer's book last year. As a PT it got me wondering whether a positive slump test is, in fact, always indicative of neural tension. Now I also look at the superficial back line — which has, indeed, proved to be the source of tension in several cases.

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I would take a few months to read Myers' printed work before you slam him. It's frustrating the number of reactionary luddites who lash out at serious thinkers without doing their homework.

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    It gets frustrating the number of "new" "revolutionary" treatment approaches that pop up yet have minimal or usually no supporting outcome evidence. Also the hypothesis is based on extrapolations from basic science studies which can be interpreted many ways. This seems like just another guru pedaling his great new, unproven, pseudo-scientific methods.

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Where are the pec minor and its associated soft tissues being "released" to? One of the most prominent articles which I can recall demonstrates the forces required to induce a structural change in connectove tissue is quite large (Threlkeld 1992 PT journal). Are we really causing mechanical deformation, or are we inducing more of a neurophysiological effect?

  11. lisa
    lisa says:

    It's great to see different approaches/ professions learn from each other. Imagine the choices and the benefits.

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