Welcome to Part II in my 3 part series on the Lateral Line of fascia! In Part 1 we looked at the foot/ankle, traveled up the knee and thigh into the hip, and pretty much left off right above the pelvis with your QL. In this segment we will continue our journey upwards and take a look at the ribs, shoulders, neck, and head. Part III will be chock full of exercises geared towards each segment along this line.
I would highly recommend checking out Part 1 before you continue this next section. A lot of Lateral Line Dysfunction rises from the lower end of your body. Ankles, Hips, and Low Backs tend to be what commonly gets destabilized. The neck is the next important Lateral Line area, we’ll jump into that in a little bit.
We got our butt’s moving side to side in the first part, now it’s time to restore the shimmy to your shoulders 🙂
The QL attaches your pelvis to your lower ribs along the posterior, or back body, aspect of the Lateral Lines. It’s the primary muscle in lateral flexion of the Lumbar and lower Thoracic spine. This muscle is generally pretty tight on most people, namely because their glutes are inactive. In an attempt to stabilize your pelvis and spine your nervous system will tighten these muscles to keep you from over extending.
This is why sidebending usually feels sooooo good. You’re stretching these tight muscles, but sidebending alone will not fix the true cause of their tightness: pelvic/hip instability. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t build a skyscraper on an unstable foundation right? Your brain perceives the instability of your foundation, your pelvis/hips/legs, and as a result restricts your movement by tightening your muscles and locking your joints so that you can stay safe and not overextend and hurt yourself. Fix up your base and your whole upper body will see some crazy improvement in mobility.
The Internal and External Obliques represent the front part. The line then continues past these muscles and consists of the Internal and External Intercostals (the muscles between your ribs).
For the sake of this article we’ll continue to just focus on side bending and move up the chain to the shoulders then the final area, the neck & head.
Haha here’s one type of sidebend you may see at the gym
After your QL, Internal & External Obliques your Lateral Lines move into your shoulder. Below the shoulder is the Serratus Anterior, Teres, etc, and above the shoulder is your Deltoid, Supraspinatus & Trapezius, etc. If you know anything about these guys, they all work to stabilize your shoulder and lift your arm out to the side of your body (Abduction).
Hmmmm I’m seeing a common theme of stability for a lot of muscles in the Lateral Line.
Shoulder problems tend to be more of a back body problem (Posterior Chain) and are not often indicated with Lateral Line Dysfunctions. Most people have terrible posture which makes them look like Human Cashews or Trolls. (Click the “Troll” link if you’re interested in a deeper look into the shoulders).
I will say though that your Serratus Anterior is often very tender. Run your fingers along the ribs under your armpit. There’s a good chance you’ll find something rather tender there, suggesting that your Serratus could use a little attention.
Maybe avoid smelling your fingers and go wash your hands after feeling your armpit.
The Head & Neck:
The final destination for us and for the Lateral Lines is the outside aspect of your neck, and the area around your ears on your head. As you can see after the Deltoid & Trap your Lateral Line consists of a bunch of smaller neck muscles.
The most important is your SCM or Sternocleidomastoid. If you have neck pain, then you have a Lateral Line problem, because this guy is like the butt of your neck. Your SCM moves your neck in all 3 planes of motion (forward/back, side to side, & rotation), just like your butt moves your pelvis and hip in all 3 planes.
Dysfunction in your Glute Medius, the fulcrum of the Lateral Line, can link to pain in your neck. Tightness in your hips decreases the elastic potential (ability to move) of your fascia. This can tension the whole network and result in compensation and pain in your neck.
SCM’s can get pretty messed up too because of hunched-over a phone/screen to read posture. Along with the SCM the Scalenes (muscles along the side of your neck) can get pretty messed up from hunching forward. The muscles along the back of your neck, the mid/lower Trapezius & Rhomboids get overstretched (tensioned) and as a result the Scalenes become overactive and tight to compensate.
Check out that image above, what effect do you think having a tense locked down SCM and Scalenes has on the nerves in your neck?
The answer might just give you a headache 😉
End of the Line:
So that’s the anatomy and some information how things can go awry for your Lateral Line. As you can see most of these muscles are big time stabilizers of your shoulders, hips, neck, ankle. The lateral line, after all, is your stability line.
Hopefully you can see now how the whole chain is affected by each different area via tensegrity. Tensegrity is the balance between compression and tension (One area gets compressed = affiliated areas get tensioned & vice versa).
The two key Lateral Line muscles:
- Glutes (especially Glute Medius)
Both of these muscles move in all 3 planes of motion and any muscle that does that is prone to dysfunction just from a simple loss of stability.
Part III will focus on ways to release constricted muscles along the chain, as well as how to activate them. Then we’ll look at a few different ways to stretch and strengthen the Lateral Line. Your Fishiness will be restored and you can shoulder shimmy and hip swagger your way through life with ease!
Looking forward to seeing you soon!