Sling and Things…..
The human body is a complicated machine. Combinations of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and other connective tissues all work together to allow us the amazing movements that we do both consciously and unconsciously on a daily basis. From minute to minute the muscles of our bodies are working together like a well rehearsed orchestra. From prehistoric times the body has developed movement patterns that utilize various muscles in a symphony of pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, rotating and pressing.
In order to perform complex movements and stay upright and balanced, the muscles of the body must work together from top to bottom and side to side. Muscular combinations called slings work together to stabilize and balance the body while allowing movement to occur. These slings work from top on one side of the body to muscles of back, hip and glutes.
In this article we are going to talk about 3 muscular slings of the body:
#1 – Longitudinal Sling
#2 – Posterior Oblique Sling
#3 – Anterior Oblique Sling
1. Longitudinal Sling
The Posterior longitudinal sling consists of the deep multifidus muscle attaching to the sacrum with the deep layer of the thoracolumbar fascia, blending with the long dorsal sacroiliac joint ligament and continuing on into the sacrotuberous ligament. In other words the erector muscles of the spine work with the biceps femoris (hamstrings) through the sacrotuberous ligament of the pelvis and then onward to the peroneus longus muscle of the lower leg.
2. Posterior Oblique Sling
The Posterior Oblique sling consists primarily of the latissimus dorsi of the back and the contralateral (opposite) gluteus maximus muscle. The gluteus maximus then blends into the fascia of the thigh (the iliotibial band).
During the pushing phase of gait, there is contraction of the glute max that occurs with the opposite latissimus dorsi muscle as the arm is extended. This contraction of opposite muscles produces tension in the thoracolumbar fascia (in the lower back) that assists in stabilizing the sacroiliac joint of the leg on the ground.
3. Anterior Oblique Sling
Anterior oblique sling consists of the external oblique, internal oblique and the transversus abdominis muscles via the rectus sheath, blending with the contralateral (opposite) adductor muscles (of the inner thigh) via the adductor-abdominal fascia. In other words, the adductors (of the inner thigh) work together with the internal oblique the same same on and the external oblique muscles on the opposite side to stabilize the body.
As the speed of the gait increases from walking to running, activation of this sling of muscles is more promient in order to provide stability during movement. These become especially important during sporting activities such as tennis, soccer, hockey at the body must change direction and adjust speed by decelerating in order to slow down to turn and change direction and then by accelerating back upto speed.
As you can see from the anatomy and descriptions of how these muscles are integrated to work together, you can understand why exercising using machines is counter productive and counter intuitive as well. Our bodies are not designed to sit or lay in machines to exercise. We are designed to move in all directions and in various speeds/tempos. That is why we will train using exercises that integrate movement and strengthen the muscles in the way they are designed to move.
For example in the single leg deadlift, the weight is held on the same side as the leg that is off the ground. This cross-body movement is a total core stabilization exercise. Standing on one leg and lefting the weight with the opposite arm places three-dimensional force through the core. Other exercises that we can do that work the cross-body slings are: single leg reaching row on the cables, asymmetrical squats, cone squats, split squats with rear leg elevated with asymmetical load.
Till next time,
Paul Check, MMS, HHP, NMT The Outer Unit. C.H.E.K. Institute