Written by: Melvina (Mpowers) Hayes, MFA, PTA Global-CPT; TRX-QT; SCHWINN-CT

Have you ever heard “The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone …?” Has your trainer ever recommended self-myofascial release or a deep tissue massage? Have you ever been prescribed a pair of orthotics to address back pain? Have you ever propelled yourself from the floor into a jump squat and felt a pain or tightness in your back? If you answered yes to either of these questions or if you just have curiosity that has been piqued, come with me.
As the songs suggests everything is connected. In fact, we all start as one cell that multiplies into two, four, eight cells, and so on. Around the second week after conception, an embryo develops into three germ layers: ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. The ectoderm develops into the brain, nervous system and the skin, the mesoderm develops into the circulatory system, muscles, bones and fascia, and the endoderm develops into the digestive system, lungs, and urinary system (Winograd, Claudia). The time we spend lifting weights, taking group fitness classes and/ or training to get chiseled bodies is primarily concerned with mesoderm maintenance, if you will.
Extreme athletes aside, strength training is the aim of the average workout and there are various approaches you may take to that end. That may look like weightlifting with a load that only allows one repetition max, weightlifting to fatigue, or body weight training. Notwithstanding, endurance equipment you will find that most gym equipment diagrams direct you to isolate, focusing on one muscle group at a time. Keeping in mind the connectedness that evolved from one cell to three germ layers to countless muscles/muscle groups, there is a more progressive, functional method worth mentioning.

Functional training coincides with our muscle connectivity in a way that supports activities of daily living. Thus, our feet are aligned in a way that maintains our back, or releasing tight adductors help correct valgus knees, or jumping into a squat doesn’t cause strain to the latissimus dorsi. Our muscles connect from our toes to our temples anteriorly (Superficial Front Line), posteriorly (Superficial Back Line), along either side of our bodies (Lateral Lines), from the front of our shoulders, across our belly to the opposite leg (Front Functional Line) and from the back of our shoulders, across our lower back to the opposite leg (Back Functional Line) (Myers, T. 2016). These are a few of the myofascial chains that allow for a more holistic approach to strength training that supports daily activities, mobility, and stability. We can build toned physiques and complete a squat, at any age – whether for assessment or to pick up a bag of groceries – without undo aches and pains.
Fitness enthusiast may take interest in training myofascial chains. It is imperative to have a certified/qualified personal trainer when doing strength training, performance training, injury rehabilitation, or anything having to do with introducing anatomical stress. I encourage you to have a trainer that knows and respects the limits of their expertise and one that stays curious about their craft.

Wagner, C., Germ layer, https://www.britannica.com/science/embryo-human-and-animal,
Myers, T. (2014). Anatomy Trains. London: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier