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Ask the Expert: What are global slings and how do they relate to fascial movement?

Global slings and how they relate to fascial movement

Q: What are global slings, and how do they relate to fascial movement?

A: In order to understand global muscle slings, we first have to look at the relationship between muscles and fascia. Fascia is often thought of as the covering around the muscle belly, but we should consider that muscle fibers develop within a web of fascia. This is where the term ‘myofascia’ originates. Muscle fibres are continuous with their tendon which blends into the periosteum (the outer fascial surface) of the bone, and then continues on to be the tendon of the next muscle, and so on. These continuities are what are referred to as myofascial slings or lines. They act to transmit forces across several segments, store and release elastic energy, and stabilize joints by providing tension without compression.

When we understand where these myofascial slings are and what comprises them, we are better able to program exercises that will target them. As an example, the Posterior Oblique Line involves the Latissimus Dorsi, contralateral (opposite side) gluteus maximus and the intervening thoracolumbar fascia. Choosing an exercise that involves hip extension and lateral rotation, shoulder extension and trunk rotation, will target the muscles and associated fascia in this sling, providing greater strength and stability. Utilizing these lines in Pilates and fitness programs will result in more effective programs and greater gains for clients.