The human body is truly an amazing machine! We are all aware that our bodies have muscles, nerves, fascia, bones etc….. These allow us to move, lift, produce force and get about our daily activities. But when we look a little more closely, we see that the body is a complex system consisting of many different chains. When we injure our self – we can often create a dysfunction or a weakness in a particular chain. This can then go on to create problems with the way we move or perform tasks.
These chains that I am talking about are often referred to as slings. Physiotherapist Diane Lee identifies 4 main sling systems within the human body.
The top picture is the posterior sling, the middle is the anterior sling and the bottom picture is the lateral sling. The posterior sling is an important one, as we use this sling to drive movement in walking and running. As you can see from the picture below, the glute max muscle works with the opposite lat dorsi muscle during the push off phase of walking or running. This combined contraction counters rotation and produces tension in the fascia joining the two muscles. This allows the system to work like a spring as it stores energy and also stabilises the sacroliliac joint (the back on the pelvis). It’s very clever!
Sometimes people who have sustained injury to the hip, back or shoulder will need to retrain these muscles as a system in order to return to full function – particularly if they are keen to get back into running. This is just one of many examples of how the body works in this way. Pilates is a great way to retrain dysfunction within all sling systems to allow efficient movement and peak performance.