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Thomas Myers Interview

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

STT eMag

THOMAS MYERS INTERVIEW PART 3 OF 4 (14:07)

In Part 3 of this wonderful insight into the mind of Thomas Myers, he discusses the revelation, that is the Anatomy Trains, in the wet lab; why turning the scalpel sideways was so critical in cementing the Thomas Myers’ hypothesis; the Piezoelectric Effect; how fibroblasts respond to constant load; why exercising and fascial binding don’t mix; the 3 Body Wide Networks– Nerve, Fluid, and Fascia; and the beauty of embryology.

Listen to Part 3 Below (Requires Flash Player)

Interview Transcription

RECORDED ON 24th March 2009

GW: Moving on a little bit here in early 2006 so you did set out to test Thomas Huxley’s observation that says, “ … there is nothing so sad as the destruction of a beautiful theory by an ugly fact”. So this is where you and a team of students at the Laboratory of Anatomical Enlightenment attempted a dissection of the Anatomy Trains. Now this could have been not so good but au contraire it turned out to be quite good and it resulted in a series of DVDs which are available from the Anatomy Trains website. I’ll just quote you again here if I may, I’ve done a lot of quoting as Thomas Myers and I quote, “Alright we see out here for the first time is the entire lateral line laid out from top to bottom” … How exhilarating or surreal was it to utter those words - like here it is for the first time - the first time it has ever been seen?

TM: It was a fabulous experience and we’re going back in a couple of months here and at the end of May to do this again which will be the 4th time, and the one that you are taking that quote from is actually the 2nd dissection that we did, we’ve since done a third and we’re now about to do a 4th to refine our ideas ever yet more. This Anatomy Trains developed out of a game that I was playing with students to help them understand connected anatomy because in the 70s and early 80s right up to the 90s there was very little out there about fascia and how to do it, how to think about it as a connected system. My book is the first poor attempt at putting that together and I’m sure there will be others, there are others and there will be others yet to come. But we’ve been trying to push our ideas forward by going into the lab and we’ve been able to do that because fewer and fewer doctors are doing gross anatomy, did you know that? There are more cadavers available for people like us because very few cadavers are being used in medical schools because they’re doing so much more now by video modelling and computer modelling that they don’t have time to whittle away the body itself on cadavers. So its people like me in the alternative realm I suppose or complementary realm that are testing our theories against the real body. So yeah although I had done some preliminary dissection it was absolutely wonderful to see things come together in a way that was even better than I had hoped in terms of fascial continuity. For instance, that lateral line you’re saying a very prominent fascial structure that we all know is iliotibial tract and so we were lifting that iliotibial tract off the vastus lateralis and taking it up with the muscles that are contained within it gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae and we came up to the iliac crest. Now any anatomy from then on down would show you that fascia coming up to the iliac crest and then the other muscles the external oblique and internal oblique that form the lateral part of the abdominal wall there taking off from the top of the iliac crest and there would be an edge of bone showing in there. And that’s what I say is a kind of political statement because in point of fact if you turn the scalpel sideways and, this interview and my entire career are based on this one thing, of just turning the scalpel sideways. And cut along the iliac crest there is a strong and definite fascial connection of fabric connection between the top of the ilioltibial band and the bottom of the abdominal muscles. You can say that they attach onto the iliac crest but its not as if one attaches to the bottom of the iliac crest and then the other attaches to the top of the iliac crest. It’s as if there was one sheet and somebody glued it to the underside of that sheet onto the iliac crest as it went by. So by turning the scalpel sideways we were able to lift this continuous sheet off all the way from the ear to the lateral arch. And yes its very gratifying to see that and frankly Geoff I have to tell you I don’t know why we’ve had 500 years of anatomy and nobody has done this yet. And I’m kind of waiting for somebody to come up to me and say, ‘You know why you’re wrong? This whole thing is your fantasy and here’s why.’ But so far nobody has yet and I’ve sent it to people for criticism and certainly I’m open to having my ideas challenged but so far this just seems to be a new way of looking at it because we’ve been so caught up in that old single muscle, biomechanical way of looking at it and this doesn’t deny that this just adds the idea of connectivity to the equation.

GW: It’s certainly evident from your writings that you’re an intelligent man has a very well rounded insightful handle on humanity and metaphysical concepts. If I may ask a couple of questions on things a little bit left-field, would you be happy to answer those?

TM: Oh I’ll give it my best try.

GW: I’ve heard a few people describe or define the piezoelectric effect as it relates to soft tissue, would you mind having a dab at that? And how do you define it?

TM: Well piezoelectric means pressure electric but we could call it tension electric because pressure and tension always co-exist. If you get pressure in one direction, you always get tension in another. And when you tense biological fabric and we’re not talking anything too magical here, it happens in wood to that’s a kind of biological fabric as well. That you’re stretching the molecules and through ionization, don’t ask me about all the details of this, electrons will flow along the fabric as the molecules are stretched. It’s a very weak ionic flow but its certainly we’ve Helene Langevin has demonstrated that fibroblast for instance the cells that make the collagen network are responsive to these ionic flows going past their membranes and it tends to stimulate them to produce more fibre so if you put a constant tension through the fascial fabric or the myofascial fabric, the fibroblasts along that line of tension are going to respond by producing more collagen fibre. And there’s evidence also that other cells will hear that tension and migrate to that area and produce more fascial fibre so you’re stimulating the local cells and you’re actually stimulating cells to come there and overproduce. And so that will produce a fascial strap that is, if you carry your head forward for instance the most common posture of all that you see everywhere, people carrying their head forward to the rest of their body, then the muscles at the back of the neck have a constant tension going down through them and they will gradually be replaced by fascia and the muscle will gradually degrade the worst aspect of that would be some old geezer that you see who cant turn his head from one side to the other has to turn his whole body because he’s just plain lost the muscular ability to turn the neck, the muscles have degraded and fascia has taken over. But this happens in minor, minor ways, this kind of remodelling of the tissue happens all over the body all the time it happens in repair, it happens in chronic postural things and the gospel of Ida Rolf is to say you know if you really want to restore this you have to restore the connective tissue as well. And muscular training is great for muscular training but it does not open up these things that have become part of the fascial structure, at least it certainly doesn’t do so immediately, it takes time and if you hand me somebody who’s been in an auto accident give me 4 or 5 sessions of course it depends on the injury etc. I’ll hand you back somebody who is much more ready for physical training, who is much more prepared to accept the exercises and to get benefit from the exercises whereas if you pile the exercises on top of a body that has a lot of fascial binding or extra fascia due to these piezoelectric laying down of fascia then you’re working against that tissue in your exercises and it just requires a whole lot more time and a whole lot more effort and sometimes undue effort to try to get these things to self repair. But I’m going to go one more sentence on that. It’s clear that the connective tissue system, and I’m talking about the collagen, the matrix of collagen and the sort of watery, mucousy stuff that goes with it is a liquid crystal and like most crystals it responds to electrical activity. Its clear from experiments that they’ve done on salamanders re-growing a leg after a leg got removed that the connective tissue leads the way and that it sets out the template for a leg according to some kind of electrical grid that its responding to and here I’m going to get really vague because we really don’t know whether are we talking about some kind of aura or are we talking about something that’s within the cells themself, we just don’t know yet. But clearly the connective tissue leads the way in front of the nerves and the blood vessels and sets up the scaffolding for all these other cells to come along so essentially the connective tissue is your organ of form. And this seems to be true both embryologically in terms of wound healing and eventually we’ll be able to re-grow arms and things like that on human beings once we figure out how this works. I feel quite sure, I feel quite confident making that statement that we’re not too far away from that. And we’ll use these kind of electrical template somehow to make it work but I think there’s a whole bunch of information stored in the connective tissue that we have not been making use of in our therapies and that this will be an up and coming in the decades of the future.

GW: That’s profound but there’s more information just sitting there waiting to be uncovered. Moving on to another one of your quotes would you believe, ‘The body is a fractal event more like an atmosphere or a culture. It is a pattern of swirls.’ I’ve read in some of your other work as well that you do mention fractals on occasion, how would you define them or what’s their role in the whole scheme of things?

TM: Well without getting too mathematical on this, fractals are very simple equations that produce very complex forms and when you look at the body there are certain big general things that seem to be determined by genetics or by the biomechanics of being in a womb, again we don’t quite sure how much is due to which. But everybody, if we were to take everybody apart everybody would have an aorta. And everybody would have a heart more or less in the same place, and the body, and the stomach, etc. and the spine. But if we were to get down and look at the details of the blood vessels say if we were to take a patch of skin from the back of your hand and then analyse it in the back patch of skin from the back of my hand and 20 other people we would see very similar patterns but they wouldn’t be exactly the same. In other words the aorta is probably pre-programmed that how the capillaries or the small twigs of nerves or the small fabric of the connective tissue, you notice I brought up the 3 body wide networks, the neural network, the fluid network and the fascial network. These are the 3 networks that govern the whole body. Now everybody has an ilioltibial band, everybody has an aorta, everybody has a spinal cord. But when you get out to the details, the details are arranged fractally by which it means they’re very similar kinds of pattern but the actual pattern will vary very much in the individual. Now the anatomy books try to make you think that we’re all put together like Ford motor cars or Dell computers of interchangeable parts assembled into this similar thing called a human being. But if you do dissection or if you do training or if you do manipulation what you’re interested in are the differences and in dissection you will see quite variable differences from person to person. So Netter is the average of I believe 384 corpses and Clemete that anatomy book is the average of 404 cadavers. But average is the operative word. Nobody is average, everybody has these subtle differences and these subtle differences are arranged … If you think of the body growing we all start out from one cell and we make it to 70 trillion cells and that’s an amazing growth and so cells just proliferate and arrange themselves somehow into a human being. The more you know about embryology the more you’re amazed that it works as often as it does, to produce the human beings ‘cause it’s such a complex task. And when we look at simple elements arranged in complex things like simple human beings arranged in a complex thing called a culture or simple things like wind and temperature arranged in a complex thing we call weather, in the atmosphere, these things are fractal like arrangements and how the cells get fed and get rid of their wastes and do their jobs in the body is likewise that kind of very complex fractal arrangement.

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