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Myofascial Chains

First of all, before we begin let's explore what myofascia is, we talked about fascia last time but now there is Myo- in front of it. Myo means muscle fibre, we already know what fascia is, so Myofascia is the muscle fibres that are held together by fascial wrappings to form a muscle. These then link to make Myofascial Chains and these chains direct basic locomotion patterns, support the musculoskeletal system, and aid in the body's balance, posture and motion.

How Many Chains are there?

There are 11 Myofascial Chains, also known as Myofascial Kinetic Lines.

These are:

  • Superficial Dorsal Line

  • Superficial Ventral Line

  • Deep Dorsal Line

  • Deep Ventral Line

  • Lateral Line

  • Spiral Line

  • Functional Line

  • Front Limb Protraction Line

  • Front Limb Retraction Line

  • Front Limb Adduction Line

  • Front Limb Abduction Line

So Is It Important To Know About This?

These Myofascial Chains are structured to direct basic locomotion patterns, support the musculoskeletal system but also aids in balance, posture and motion of the whole body. By having an understanding of these structures and how to identify when they are under tension we can help our horses to be comfortable and be at their best.

An example of this is the Superficial Dorsal Line (SDL), which supports the horse's body in extension, shown in the picture. Ideally, we want a plumb line from the point of buttock and the back of the hind limb should be in line with it. With this horse, their hind limb is under their body which is called camped under posture. This puts tension in the SDL.

So from looking at this posture we now know that there is tension in the poll, upper neck, back and hindlimb and you may be able to tell that there isn't good muscle mass in this horse's top line. This is due to the tension in the fascia. Remember, fascia has nerves and when the fascia is tight it will affect the nerve function. Did you know that as nerves can't stretch, they are made in an S shape so that they can stretch with the fascia?

So when the fascia is put under long-term tension it can lead to densifications in the fascia which means it no longer glids properly and this is when the nerves can get irritated and not serve their function such as proprioceptive input and can cause muscles to atrophy. So horses may stand in a camped under posture to compensate and avoid pain but this long term can cause more damage and pain for them.

So understanding what these structures do for the horse and identifying any postural abnormalities are very important.

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