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The Spiral Line: Five Approaches for Practice

Anita Boser is a Certified Hellerwork Practitioner. She graduated from the Institute of Structural Medicine in 2001. As part of her training, she had the opportunity to dissect the Anatomy Trains arm lines for her classmates. Her personal practice is in Issaquah, WA USA. You can contact her through http://www.vitalselfinc.com.David Lesondak, BCSICM, is a member of the Allied Health Professional Staff in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He produced and directed the forthcoming three DVD set "Anatomy Trains Revealed:Dissecting the Myofascial Meridians." David graduated from KMI in 2003. You can contact him at [email protected].
Anita Boser is a Certified Hellerwork Practitioner. She graduated from the Institute of Structural Medicine in 2001. As part of her training, she had the opportunity to dissect the Anatomy Trains arm lines for her classmates. Her personal practice is in Issaquah, WA USA. You can contact her through http://www.vitalselfinc.com.David Lesondak, BCSICM, is a member of the Allied Health Professional Staff in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He produced and directed the forthcoming three DVD set "Anatomy Trains Revealed:Dissecting the Myofascial Meridians." David graduated from KMI in 2003. You can contact him at [email protected].

From the swirl of galaxies to the double helix of DNA to a baby just learning to roll over, the spiral is essential to life.

Ida Rolf gave us ?The Line”. Thanks to author and anatomist Thomas Myers, we now have the Spiral Line.

Myers’ model of myofascial meridians is revolutionizing the way many of us look at the body. The essence of the ?Anatomy Trains? model is that it shows how individual muscles link together to form functional, myofascial continuities organized along longitudinal lines of pull throughout the body.(1) Of his 13 schemas that map the “anatomy of connection,” we are choosing to focus our attention on the complexities of the Spiral Line.

<center>The Territory</center>

Starting at the head, the Spiral Line “begins” with the splenius capitis and cervicis and goes over the spinous processes of the vertebrae in a direct fascial connection to the rhomboids on the opposite side. Palpate your right splenii with your right hand, flex your left elbow and then reach across your body under your right armpit until your scapula starts to move too. You’ll feel this connection.

From the rhomboids the Spiral Line then dives under the shoulder blade to blend with the serratus anterior. Recent dissections have shown quite clearly that there is such a fascial continuity between these two muscles that they may as well be called the “rhomboserratus?.

The serratus anterior interdigitates with the external oblique. The external oblique fibers blend into the superficial rectus abdominis sheath and the linea alba, where they enmesh with fibers that are part of the opposite internal oblique and continue on to the ASIS. Thus the “upper” Spiral Line joins the back of the head to the front of the hip on the same side of the body (see Figure 1).

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/2010/1114-1.jpg’>
Figure 1. Upper Spiral Line (Right)

The lower Spiral Line starts at the ASIS and travels down the anterior aspect of the tensor fasciae latae and iliotibial tract to the lateral tibial condyle and the tibialis anterior. You can easily palpate this right now. Sit down and put your hand on the outside of your right thigh. Alternately push your foot to the floor and then dorsiflex your ankle, you’ll feel tension transmitted from the lower leg to the iliotibial tract.

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/2010/1114-2.jpg’>
Figure 2. Tibialis anterior and fibularis longus meet

The tibialis anterior tendon attaches to the fibularis longus tendon. While it?s true that these tendons also attach to the 1st metatarsal and 1st cuneiform they also attach to each other? another connection which has withstood dissective scrutiny (see Figure 2). Together they form a sling under the arches of the foot (see Figure 3).

<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/2010/1114-3.jpg’>
Figure 3. Lower Spiral Line, sling under foot

From the fibularis longus to the fibular head, we then pick up the biceps femoris and follow it to the ischial tuberosity, forming a larger sling from the front of the hip, around the longitudinal arches of the foot, to the back and bottom of the pelvis. From the ischial tuberosity it’s an easy connection to the sacrotuberous ligament and up the erector spinae to the back of the head, to complete the helix of the Spiral Line.

The upper Spiral Line forms a helix, and the lower spiral line also forms a very longitudinal double helix. Taken as a whole, the Spiral Line and its helical paths offer us an anatomical model that helps us to strategize beyond the two dimensional realm of bend, shift, and tilt into the three-dimensional (and oft confusing) realm of rotation.

<center>Oh Say, Can You See?</center>

Seeing is a skill structural integrators develop over time. First we develop the capacity to compare left to right. Which side is longer or shorter? What bony prominence is higher or more anterior?

The Line is the basis of our work. It’s where we start. As useful as the Line is, this linear perspective, with the shifts and tilts that we see relative to the Line, is limited in its ability to help usinterpret three-dimensional structure.

We may see a left shift of the ribcage relative to the pelvis and a shift of the head to the right relative to the rib cage (which puts the eyes directly over the pelvis) and interpret that our client needs length in the left waist and the right neck. However, this same set of shifts could be interpreted as the result of distortions in the upper Spiral Line, namely shortening anteriorly along the path from left hip to right ribcage, and posteriorly from the right ribcage and/or scapula to the left occiput.

Although we are accustomed to assessing structure by interpreting spatial relationships according to two-dimensional lines that we have learned to see superimposed on the body, we can evolve our seeing to include the threedimensional spirals inherent in living structures. As Betsy Sise states in The Rolfing Experience, ?Seeing penetrates in a deep and gentle way into what I am observing.?(2)

The Spiral Line provides a different map to follow and, since we are following actual fiber direction within the myofascia, it offers a more anatomically-based lens through which to see. Understanding how the Spiral Line can distort structure gives practitioners insights that can assist our work in many applications. Here we offer five of our favorite approaches to Spiral Line exploration. The first three approaches can be incorporated into your superficial ?sleeve? sessions; the fourth and fifth approaches offer perspectives to help you explore the Spiral Line during the integrative sessions.

<center>Superficial ?Sleeve? Sessions</center>

<i>1) The Lower Girdle Superficially</i>

Shortening of the inferior Spiral Line creates two distortions that are addressed in the classic second session, when organizing the feet and legs.

<i>a) Medially rotated knee</i>

Simplifying the front of the lower Spiral Line, we can see that it connects the front of the hip to the outside of the knee to the inside of the arch. Any shortness along this line pulls the knee medially.

<i>b) Pronated and Supinated Feet</i>

The reciprocal relationship between the tibilais anterior and fibularis longus often contributes to either a dropped or too high medial longitudinal arch. Creating even tension in these fascial structures will help the arch come to a more neutral position, often setting a better stage for change in the deep posterior compartment.

<i>2) The Upper Girdle Superficially</i>

Let’s say that from an anterior view of a client you observe:

? Right ASIS is more superior than the left,

? Torso is shifted to the right, and

? Right shoulder is more inferior than the left.

This suggests a shortened left leg and right torso.

A two-dimensional strategy will lengthen the right torso and the left lower limb, usually addressed in the third classic session when balancing the lateral myofascial structures.

However, the shift in the torso and dropped shoulder may remain. This situation reveals the need for a different perspective. So rather than lengthening a line on one side of the body, follow a line around the body.

In this example it is the left Spiral Line that shortens the right side. Lengthening the left splenii, right ?rhomboserratus?, right external oblique, and left internal oblique creates the space for the right shoulder to release from the pelvis and lift.

Another indicator that the Spiral Line is implicated in this scenario is if one shoulder (in this case the right) is more forward than the other shoulder on the transverse plane. We would then want to target specifically the serratus anterior portion of the rhomboserratus sling.

Two additional visual indicators of upper Spiral Line distortions are: when there is a tilt or shift of the head; and when the distance along the diagonal path from 7th rib to the opposite hip is shorter on one side than the other.

<i>3) The KMI Approach</i>

The terrain of the Spiral Line comprises an entire session in the KMI series, in this case the fourth and final superficial session. It gives us a unique opportunity to address rotational patterns throughout the body before moving to the core sessions. There are a few things you should keep in mind in adopting this approach.

Look carefully, the upper and lower Spiral Line do not always follow suit. This is due to the sheer number of myofascial vectors crossing the ?roundhouse? of the ASIS. (Tom Myers terms the ASIS a ?roundhouse? in his Anatomy Trains metaphor, because such a structure can allow a railroad train to switch tracks or change direction.) Consequently, a shortened upper Spiral Line does not always indicate a shortened lower Spiral Line, even though they are a continuity.

Superficial rotations often mask deeper core rotations, so there is a logic to dealing with the superficial rotations intrinsic to the Spiral Line first. Removing the superficial strain will help the core unfold more effectively, and it will help you to see the core distortions more accurately. So don’t panic if your client looks more twisted or displays different rotations after a Spiral Line session?their core rotations are just more obvious now.

A complete Spiral Line session can also be quite effective for dealing with a scoliosis. One strategy that often yields good results is to start your scoliotic client with a Spiral Line session first, do the rest of your sleeve sessions and repeat the spiral session again before moving on to the core work.

One general caveat about this approach: some clients will report dizziness after a spiral session. If so, performing additional bench work on the erector spinae will clear that up, because benchwork will give the proprioceptive system an opportunity to relocate the body in space.

<center>Integrative Sessions</center>

Both superficial and core sessions have defined processes to follow. Even though each session is tailored for the individual, the territory and goals are specific, like traveling from New York to Los Angeles with some choices as to the route. By comparison, the integrative sessions can often feel like taking the same trip off road in a Humvee.

The Hellerwork Client Handbook states: ?Because each body is so unique, the integrative sections have no general map. The specific focus of these sections is on rotational patterns in the body.?(3) As liberating as not having a map can be, it helps to have some points of reference so you don?t get lost. Particularly when the goal is to help our clients find themselves, interoceptively speaking.

The Spiral Line is a handy reference for this leg of the journey.

<i>4) Lower Girdle Integration</i>

What is needed to relate the lower limbs to the core? In A Dynamic Relation to Gravity, Volume 2 ? The Ten Sessions of Structural Integration,(4) Ed Maupin, Henry Kagey, and Ron Arbel give two goals for the lower girdle hour:

<div class=’indented’>1. Make sure the leg is integrated (no blocks or missing parts)

2. Connect the lower limbs to the spine through the pelvis. </div>

Considering the lower Spiral Line as a whole gives you the ability to affect many structures at once, all the way from the ASIS, around the lower leg, and back up to the ischial tuberosity.

Work with your hands on the front of the ilium and on the ischial tuberosity with the entire lower spiral in mind. With client movement, such as subtle hip flexion followed by extension through the heel, integrate the lower leg sling to the core of the pelvis between your hands. You and your client will feel the integration (or lack of integration) between the parts.

Since the Spiral Line connects the lower limb to the spine through the sacrotuberous ligament, this is one avenue for relating the leg to the spine.

These are ipsilateral strategies, but when you connect the lower girdle to the upper girdle with the entire Spiral Line in mind (not a bad Session 10 strategy, actually) you delve into a contralateral approach. For example, with your client seated on a bench you work with the right hip and left shoulder (or vice versa). The Spiral Line gives you one map to follow mentally and kinesthetically, and with it as an initial guide, you may find other “off road” trails through the body.

<i>5) Upper Girdle Integration</i>

In Rolfing: Restablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being, Dr. Ida Rolf states: ?It is apparent that unless the tone of the serrati is maintained by the opposing pull of the dorsal rhomboids, the scapulae will become chronically displaced.?(5) Later in the chapter, she continues, ?The rhomboid group?s tone and span maintain appropriate sturdy verticality of the upper dorsal spine.?(6)

The Spiral Line gives the practitioner a straightforward relationship to develop the correct span in the rhomboid group. Balancing tension through the external oblique, serratus anterior, rhomboids, and opposite splenii will bring the scapulae closer to neutral.

<center>Conclusion: Spinning in to control</center>

Clearly there are advantages to adding Spiral Line strategies to your repertoire. No matter which of these offered approaches you choose, we hope your exploration will increase your knowledge of internal structure, expand your vision, and help you to better integrate your clients.

<div class=’indented’>”Yield to Reality’s spiral.
We owe it our existence
Where did Reality come from?”
? Tao Te Ching translation by David K. Reynolds (7)</div>

Notes

1. Myers, Thomas W., Anatomy Trains, second edition. 2008, Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

2. Sise, B., The Rolfing Experience: Integration in the Gravity Field. Prescott, AZ, Hohm Press, 2005.

3. Heller, J., Hanson, J. Hellerwork Client Handbook. copyright Hellerwork International. Available online: http://<a href=’http://hellerwork.com/archives/000787.html’ target=’_blank’>http://hellerwork.com/archives/000787.html</a>.

4. Maupin, E., Kagey, H., and Arbel, R., A Dynamic Relation to Gravity, Volume 2- The Ten Sessions of Structural Integration. Dawn Eve Press, 2005, page 94.

5. Rolf, Ida P., Rolfing: Restablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being. Rochester, Vermont, Healing Arts Press, 1989.

6. Rolf, Ida P., Rolfing: Restablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being. Rochester, Vermont, Healing Arts Press, 1989.

7. Reynolds, David K., Reflections on the Tao Te Ching: A New Way of Reading the Classic Book of Wisdom. NY, William Morrow, 1993.

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