Massage & Bodywork

MARCH | APRIL 2017

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 45 FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY education Thoracolumbar Fascial Network By Christy Cael The thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) is a dense, multilayered system of connective tissue located in the low back. This diamond-shaped structure consists of both osteofibrous tissue and tendinous aponeuroses that surround and separate spinal muscles and transmit forces through the area. Based at the sacrum and ligaments of the sacroiliac joints, the TLF attaches medially to the lumbar spinous processes and thoracic transverse processes and ribs, and joins the paraspinal retinacular sheath (PRS) laterally. The PRS forms a sleeve around the erector spinae muscles (spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis), structurally enclosing and separating them from the deeper paravertebral muscles. Several muscles affect the fascial configuration and structure of the TLF. Superiorly, the erector spinae muscles create tension caudally, through the PRS. The strongest influence from the upper extremity is exerted by latissimus dorsi, but some effect is also noted with activation of the trapezius, rhomboids, and serratus posterior inferior. Laterally, the transverse abdominis exerts the greatest force, but there is evidence that the internal oblique may affect the TLF. The lower extremity connects via the gluteal fascia from the iliac crest laterally, through the gluteus medius, and medially to the posterior superior iliac spine. FUNCTION The TLF forms a resilient, relatively inelastic fulcrum that stabilizes the pelvis, bridges the torso and extremities, and transfers loads between different regions. When the transverse abdominis muscles are activated, pulling the anterior iliac crests toward the midline, the TLF network limits lateral movement of the posterior ilia and stabilizes the sacroiliac joints. Horizontal tension created by the transverse abdominis and concurrent resistance by the TLF network effectively compresses the abdomen and stabilizes the pelvis and lumbar spine. Various muscles contribute to balanced tension in the diamond-shaped thoracolumbar fascial network, including the erector spinae group (purple), latissimus dorsi (blue), transverse abdominis (green), and gluteals (white).

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