Finding “center”, or the balance, equilibrium and stability in our body that enables us to live and move in a more graceful way, is of paramount importance in our yoga practice, fitness routines, and movement through everyday life. To connect with our center, it is essential to master the midline. Simply put, the midline is the imaginary line that separates the right half and the left half of the body.
Mastering the midline might be considered as occurring both literally and figuratively, in your “core”. While your core, the musculature that mobilizes and stabilizes your spine as you sit, stand, and move about, is key to completing the puzzle, it is just one piece.
The muscles that comprise the core as we typically think of it include the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and internal and external obliques. These key muscles, as well as all the muscles in your body, are intricately interconnected through fascia. In fact, everything in your body, from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head, is literally woven together by this continuous, viscous, gelatinous connective tissue that behaves like the body’s own version of “knitting fabric”. Fascia permeates every organ, bone, muscle, and nerve right down to their cellular structures.
Additionally, fascia maintains spatial relationships between anatomical structures and serves as a mechanism to allocate the tension, pull, and force experienced by the body. In his book, “Anatomy Trains”, Tom Myers presents a compelling model of this interconnectivity through specific fascial “trains” or “lines” that link one area to another. He considers these lines to be a map of how stability is maintained and strain is distributed across the body.(1) In essence, all parts of the body are interrelated and action taken or force applied in one area will affect the whole.
Of all the Anatomy Trains Maps presented, of particular importance to cultivating balance and core stability is the Deep Front Line (DFL). The DFL is the fascial train that begins at the base of the foot and works its way up through inner calf, inner thigh, the pelvic floor and then splits into two branches. One branch continues up the front of the abdomen toward the ribs and the other weaves its way up the back side of the body to conclude at the base of the skull. It’s important to note that at the abdomen, the DFL “knitting” is literally woven into other fascial sheaths that play a crucial role in encasing and supporting the structures of the body integral to the midline. For all the anatomy lovers out there, at the end of this post under footnote (2), check out the detailed anatomical version of the DFL.
Because fascia is viscous and gelatinous, our tissues respond and perform best when we provide them with ample movement and hydration. Without regular movement and manipulation (such as massage or Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball rolling), fascia will become dry, brittle and loaded with adhesions that do not allow the body to move as nature intended. The body then compensates by engaging in detrimental movement and structural holding patterns. If left unchecked, the risk of pain, injury, and musculoskeletal degeneration is inversely and more severely amplified.
If we view the body with this deeper understanding of how every stitch of fascia affects the entire knitted web, and prioritize the development of our ability to propriocept and proactively connect with the muscles along this key fascial line through movement and massage, we can improve our balance and move from our core with greater precision and awareness. Ultimately, we will master the midline and find our “center”……from the ground up.
Come back Friday for some fantastic YTU techniques to get started!
- Anatomy Trains, second edition 2009, churchill lovingstone elsevier,Tom Myers (pp 1-3, 181-204)
- The DFL starts at the inner arch of the foot with the flexor hallicus longus and flexor digitorum longus, continues up through the tibialis posterior of the inner calf, proceeds through the adductor magnus of the inner leg, and then works its way through the pelvic floor. At this point, the DFL branches into two lines, one leading up the anterior of the body and the other up the posterior side. The anterior side of this line travels through the pelvic floor connecting with the rectus abdominus at its deepest attachment site at the pubic symphysis and continues up through the posterior abdominal fascia towards the ribs. Included in the posterior abdominal fascia is the umbilicus, enabling the DFL to connect with several additional myofascial tissues and critical organs. The posterior side of this line travels up the anterior surface of the coccyx and sacrum to the psoas and diaphragm and continues up the anterior surface of the thoracic spine. It then proceeds to the deeper anterior neck muscles including the scalenes, longus capitis, longus colli, rectus capitis, and concludes at the occiput, the base of the skull.