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Notes From the Classroom

Currently, I am embarking on a year-long course on functional anatomy taught by Gina Schatz, creator of The Schatz Method.  Read on if you are curious.

The body is astoundingly complex with layers upon layers intertwining, overlapping, coordinating both on a physical and energetic level.

Beginning with bones...we have 206 of them.  Even though we talk about "dead bones," bones are actually alive and made of organic material.  We love our bones because they store our blood cells, our fatty acids, minerals, give us our framework and anchor our muscles, allow us to facilitate movement and of course, protect our vital organs!

All movement happens at the joint where two bones meet.  Joints allow us to perform flexion, extension, hyperextension, lateral and medial rotation.

Mobility: a function of ligaments

Flexibility: quality of the muscles

Range of Motion ROM: measured by bone movement and affected by bone formation

For these joints to making movement happen, we need some connective tissue.  Ligaments connect bone to bone; and tendons connect bone to muscle.  Fascia, both superficial and deep layers is the most dense and the strongest of connective tissue.  Fascia creates our shape!  Fascia needs movement and warmth to change so getting foam rolling and pile on the heating pads. 

Last but not least, cartilage deserves a shout-out because the three types of cartilage in our bodies cushion and line our bones allowing for safe movement.  

Did someone say nervous system?

Yep yep. Our nervous system is responsible for every function in our body!  It is a "mainframe computer" and "electrical circuit board."  Complexity is the name of its game and so is speed.  Nerve cells conduct info at 270 miles/hour! That's a lot of fuel needed to power THIS supercomputer.  Brain cells require twice the energy and 25% of our total energy daily intake.  Anyone up for a medley of beets, avocado, broccoli and salmon with a side of dark chocolate?

To affect change in our bodies we have to re-create new patterns and repetition is required.  Our mirror neurons need at least seven repetitions to fully comprehend new information and thus form new patterns of alignment and movement.  So, take up your new exercise routine with fervor and do it repeatedly.  

A fascinating and pivotal point for a bodyworker and movement practitioner- to effectively address movement and touch, the practitioner must speak to the nervous system first.

"Bones, muscles and skin are completely at the mercy of big bundles of nerves that pass between vertebrae."

-Paul Ingraham,

Central Nervous System---Peripheral Nervous System--Sensory/Motor--Motor--Autonomic Nervous System--Sympathetic/Parasympathetic.


1. Identify joint action closest to the sacrum so we know where to instruct.  Sacrum is stable if it is 80% aligned.

2. Apply the lever system model and cue contraction. Look at reciprocal inhibition.

3. Observe engagement of intrinsic and phasic muscles.  Intrinsic muscles are engaged when the four curves of the spine are balanced and the body is moving away from gravity.

4. Identify category of muscle tightness.  Is it contractile, tensile, turgor, atrophy?  "Stretch" contractile side only.

5. Assess mobility (tells us where to instruct).  Look for hyper/hypo-mobility.

6. Speak to their nervous system to gauge how much to offer.

MUSCLES AND MOVEMENT ANATOMY involved in hips and  buttocks

Types of movement: 

hyperextension- Gluteus Maximus

lateral hip rotation- Deep 6 - Piriformis, Gemellus Superior, Gemellus Inferior, Obturator Internus, Obturator Externus, Quadratus Femoris

hip ADduction- 5 Adductors - Adductor Magus, Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis, Gracilius, Pectineus

hip flexion- Iliopsoas

hip ABduction- Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus

wild cards- Tensor Fasciae Latae and Sartorius

Gluteus Maximus

Action: Hyperextension of the hip and lateral rotation in hip hyperextension

O: side of sacrum and top of ilium

I: tibial tubercle

Steps to contraction of muscle:

Stand in tadasana; take one leg 2 inches behind hip and rest on ball of foot only; self-assist with palm of hand to make sure it contracts


Action: lateral hip rotation  O: anterior sacrum   I: greater trochanter


Action: lateral hip rotation  

Steps to contraction of muscles: 

Start in tadasana; bring heels together; isometrically contract by pressing pinky toes back towards 1 and 11 o' clock directions; feel contraction in lower buttock

5 Adductors

Action: adduction of the hip

Adductor Magnus

O: inferior ramus of the pubis, ramus of ischium; ischial tuberosity (also hyperextends hip)  I: linea aspera of posterior femur

Adductor Longus 

O: pubic tubercle  I: linea aspera

Adductor Brevis

O: inferior ramus of pubis  I: linea aspera

Pectineus (also a hip flexor; same innervation as psoas)

O: superior ramus of pubis  I: pectineal line of femur

Gracilis (stabilizes knee to prevent over rotation)

O: inferior ramus of pubis  I: proximal, medial shaft of tibia


Action: hip flexion

O: TP of L1-5  I: lesser trochanter

No need for contraction; we hip flex when we sit and induces glute amnesia; need to lengthen

Glute Medius and Gluteus Minimus (stabilization of pelvis)

Action: ABduction of hip

O: Iliac crest   I: lateral and anterior aspects of greater trochanter

Step to contract: 

Start with wide stance; isometrically press feet apart at edges of pinky toes   AND/OR

Start at tadasana; peel one heel off the floor; feel opposite glute hook or click  (hips facing forward, ASIS lines up with nipple line)


Action: prevents collapse of extended knee during ambulation; assists in ABduction and medial rotation

Sartorius (secondary actions only)

Action: Assists in hip flexion, hip ABduction, lateral rotation, flex and medial rotate the knee

O: ASIS  I: below knee, upper medial shaft of tibia

Contracts when seated cross-legged

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