Anatomy Review: Introduction to the Torso

The word “torso” comes from the Latin word “thysus” meaning stalk or stem. The spine within the torso forms a kind of fifth limb within us. The vertebral column runs through the center of the body, up through the neck and becomes the cranium. The muscles, the organs, the bones and other tissues of the torso surround the spine, “fleshing it out,” so to speak, just as the muscles and other tissues of the thigh surrounded the femur. So it’s useful to think of the torso three-dimensionally like a elongated orange with a spine running through its core.

No Front or Back

Truthfully, it makes no more sense to say, “the back” or the “front” of the body than it does to speak of the back of an orange or stem.

The most common misconception of the torso is that it is like a box containing organs and other vital things out of which protrude arms, legs, and a head.

Kind of an ambulatory cereal box, eh? Unfortunately, such a misconception gradually gives rise to problems derived from treating one’s torso in such an amalgamated fashion.

The Compressed Torso

For example, the older we get, often the more dragged down we may become. One of the first places where this happens is the waist. We lose our sense of waist, of the span between the ribcage and the pelvis. This is obvious with the notorious “love handles,” which are simply fleshy bulgings in response to compression between the ribcage and pelvis. Accompanying this functional loss of waist may be other problems such as a organ distention, hiatal hernia, intestinal blockages, PMS, lower back pain, sciatica, shortness of breath, etc. Not that “waistlessness” is the sole cause here, but it definitely can be a contributing factor to all of these problems.

Every massage therapist needs to know methods to restore the waist – especially Deep Massage for the rectus abdominis, illiopsoas, quadratus lumborum, multifidi and the erector spinae.

This article was taken from David Lauterstein’s publication Putting the Soul Back in the Body: A Manual of Imaginative Anatomy for Massage Therapists

To learn more about the anatomy of the torso, try TLCschool’s upcoming workshop Anatomy Review: Head, Neck and Torso for LMTs with Shane Melear and Keith Vencill.