A Brief History of Anatomy Trains

Tom Myers, the founder of Anatomy Trains, says: “I developed the Anatomy Trains during the 1990’s as a game for students to play when I was teaching Fascial Anatomy at the Rolf Institute . All the books you can find put forward the ‘single-muscle’ theory, but Ida Rolf kept saying, “It’s all connected through the fascia.” Other than invoking the image of a grapefruit or a loofah, how do you make this real?

“Just as an exercise to cement the students’ knowledge, I began stringing the muscles together through the fascia. This idea was initiated when Dr Jim Oschman gave me an article by Raymond Dart, anthropologist and Alexander Technique student, that linked the muscle in the trunk in a double-spiral arrangement (which shows up here as part of the Spiral Line). Using this as a base, I expanded Dart’s idea to the whole body, to help students see connections by stringing muscles together like sausage links – anywhere that went, or could go in some positions, in a more-or-less straight line.

“After a few teaching iterations, the whole project became so interesting that I started to systematize these connections, with the help of my friend Annie Wyman, and the picture of the lines started to become clear. I started to see the lines in assessing my clients, and then started building sessions around these lines.

“Moving toward publishing happened as a happy coincidence. One of my students (in my very small early classes for massage therapists in Maine) loved these lines, and said, “I’m going out to Hawaii to teach these lines to Lee Joseph’s students!” (His was another structurally-related school of bodywork.) I realized that if I was going to lay claim to this idea and have it come out correctly, I needed to write it down. At the same time, Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O. was forming the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, and was calling in his chits with all his old friends to get articles to start this venture off.

“These original Journal articles proved so popular that the publisher, Churchill Livingstone asked me to write a book on the idea. The book was published in 2001 and has now been translated into seven other languages – German, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese.

“After the original publication, I found earlier iteration of similar ideas – in the meridians of acupuncture, of course, but also in the sketches of Leonardo, in Hoepke, a German anatomist of the 1930′s, and in the work of Françoise Meziére in France.

“Later, it struck me – suddenly, like Saul on the road to Damascus – that the Anatomy Trains schema offered a logical lens through which to view Ida Rolf’s ten-session Structural Integration recipe. In other words, the recipe could be reconfigured slightly to unfold via a progressive opening of these lines. Thus, Kinesis Myofascial Integration (KMI) was born.

“Structural Integration (popularly known as ‘rolfing’) always labored under the burden that, when asked why the ‘recipe’ proceeds as it does, the answer is, “Well, Ida said…” The Anatomy Trains gives a logical reason for the progression of the SI sessions, understandable by professionals and the public alike. Students seem to agree, and the KMI Professional Certification has flourished since, with nearly 200 fully-trained practitioners in the US and abroad.

“Since 1998, I have taught more than 200 workshops in the Anatomy Trains. To my surprise, interest has burgeoned from the original audience of massage therapists to PT’s, chiropractors, yoga teachers, and personal trainers. Because the increasing demand outstripped my ability to be everywhere at once, we have created more supporting products and trained a diverse and wonderful Kinesis faculty to spread the Anatomy Trains ‘gospel’ – a systems-oriented view of our musculo-skeletal anatomy.

“In 2004, and again in 2006, we went into the dissection lab and came out with some revealing photo and video confirmation of the Anatomy Trains as palpable entities in the human body.

“With the advent of the extended faculty, the translations into a variety of languages, the interactive forum and application sections of this site, Anatomy Trains is rapidly becoming a world-wide participatory event in getting connected through the neuro-myo-fascial web!”

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