Thoughts Rotation and Torsion in the Horses Spine
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© Maren Diehl 2018
Thoughts about directions of rotation in the spine of riding horses when bending   Previous   discussions   have   revealed   a   need   to   clarify   some   terminology   in   advance.   Firstly   there   is   the   difference   and   the   connections   between rotation   and   torsion,   secondly   about   how   the   directions   of   rotation   are   defined.   Lastly,   it   is   also   important   to   consider   the   different   ways   of looking at spinal structure. This is where the fascia lines come into play. Since   Maike   Knifka   and   I   look   at   it   from   different   perspectives   -   she   as   a   therapist   and   I   as   either   a   rider   or   a   horse   -   as   needs   arise   -   we   explain   in different   terms   with   different   emphases.   If   you   want   to   do   out-of-the-box   research,   you   have   to   have   a   „multilingual"   understanding   of   the concepts.   That's   why   we   wrote   this   post   as   an   exchange.   As   a   result   Maike’s   text   is   green   and   mine   is   black.   Lesley   Osborne   did   the   translation, thanks for that! So there are fewer "funny words"... Rotation or torsion? The   rotation   of   a   body   part   in   a   tensegral   structure   always   leads   to   torsion   of   other   areas.   A   simple   example   of   understanding   rotation   and   torsion is   wringing   a   towel.   You   rotate   the   two   ends   of   the   towel   against   each   other   and   torsion   in   the   towel   is   the   result.   (Thanks   to   Maike   Knifka   for this likeness.) Rotation   describes   turning   around   an   axis.   Torsion   is   the   strain   arising   in   an   axis   when   a   rotating   element   is   connected   to   it   at   one   end   and   the other end of it is fixed, or when each end of the axis rotates against the other. Our   imagination   gives   us   the   ability   to   define   very   differently   which   body   parts   rotate,   where   imagined   fixed   points   are,   where   torsion   takes   place - and how the system releases itself again. The directions of rotation The   definition   of   the   directions   of   rotation   in   the   torso   is   difficult   because   therapists   view   the   direction   of   rotation   differently   from   me   and   also   to most non-therapists I've spoken to about it so far. Therapists   refer   to   the   direction   of   movement   of   the   sternum   during   rotation   (i.e.   on   the   vertebral   base).   If   the   sternum   moves   to   the   right,   it   is rotation   to   the   right.   As   a   result,   from   the   therapist's   perspective,   the   pelvis   rotates   to   the   right   as   the   right   hip   lifts.   I   would   call   this   movement   a rotation to the left, looking at the pelvis like a wingnut at the back of the spine. “How do you mean?” asks my piebald.  I offer both views and ask for feedback from my readers! As   shown   in   the   following   text,   I   see   the   thoracic   vertebrae   in   the area   of   ​​the   true   ribs   (2)   as   the   stablest,   least   moving   vertebra   and   with the   least   rotation   relative   to   the   line   representing   the   combined   forces of   gravity   and   turning   (called   hereafter   the   „plumb   line   of   motion“). If   I   define   my   point   of   reference   here   and   at   the   same   time   stick   to   the idea   with   the   wingnut   on   both   ends   of   the   spine,   the   sacrum   rotates   in my   mind   to   the   right   as   the   right   hip   lowers.   If   the   torsion   following the    idea    of    the    towel    goes    through    the    entire    spinal    column,    the cervical vertebrae (wingnut in front) now rotates to the left. In   a   right   bend   of   the   horse,   the   downward   movement   of   the   inner   hip is    more    emphasized    than    the    outer,    bearing    in    mind    that    it    is    a tendency within the sequence of movement and not a rigid setting. Tensegrity by torsion between atlas and pelvis Dear   Maren,   I   can   understand   the   image   of   the   wingnut   as   a   symbol of   the   pelvis   as   a   "rotary   engine"   very   well.   In   my   imagination   too, the   alternating   movement   of   the   hind   limbs   in   the   pelvis   initiates   an   "oscillating   propeller   movement",   i.e.   rotation   in   a   continuous   change   of direction.   The   counterpart   of   the   "pelvic   wingnut"   for   me   is   the   atlas.   Under   optimal   tensegral   tension   in   bends,   the   front   wingnut   always   rotates contrary to the wingnut at the back. Exactly the same as wringing out a towel by counter-rotating movements. My   idea   is   that   in   your   example   of   the   right   bend   with   the   pelvis   tending   to   drop   lower   on   the   right   side,   not   the   entire   cervical   spine   rotates,   but rather   the   distinct   counter   rotation   of   the   atlas   takes   the   first   cervical   vertebra   with   it   in   its   direction   of   rotation   and   somewhere   along   the   line   a gradual reverse in the pelvic rotation direction takes place. Looking   at   the   spine   as   a   whole   (see   picture   above),   viewed   from   the   sacrum,   all   of   the   vertebrae   rotate   a   little   (!)   to   the   left   in   relation   to   their predecessor.   From   the   perspective   of   the   spine,   there   is   no   reversal   of   rotation.   But   from   the   point   of   view   of   the   rider   or   any   reference   point   in the spine there is (see below!). “Let’s go a ride out”, says my piebald, “this is too complicated for me”. The   old   principle   of   "no   bend   without   position"   is   basically   an   acknowledgement   of   tensegrity,   because   the   aids   of   the   rider   in   positioning   the poll in the bending direction lead to counter-rotation of the atlas thereby stabilizing the overall system. Perceived connections Anyone   who   is   able   to   imagine   putting   themselves   in   the   horse’s   place   during   movement   can   comprehend   that   it   will   definitely   be   more comfortable   if   the   saddle   and   rider's   weight   can   be   carried   in   the   plumb   line   of   motion   and   the   power   of   the   front   legs   can   be   directed   against   the total   load.   Since   the   horse   with   progressive   training   in   trot   and   canter   on   curved   lines   should   become   increasingly   agile   and   show   less   leaning angle,   the   thorax   must   therefore   be   carried   more   vertically   (next   post   ...),   while   thrust   alignment   becomes   more   and   more   direct   by   the   change   in pelvic position. Accordingly,   the   rotational   movements   of   the   spine   flow   into   the   loading   and   unloading   of   the   haunches.   The   "sitting   deeper   on   the   inside"   on curved   lines,   which   is   mentioned   in   most   riding   styles,   but   which   is   rarely   seen,   is   therefore   caused   by   the   spinal   rotation   of   the   rear   thoracic vertebrae   and   the   lumbar   spine   and   the   resulting   sinking   pelvis,   or   the   other   way   around   through   the   torsion   resulting   in   the   spine   caused   by   the pelvic tilt. In a powerful horse, however, you feel not only the charge, but also the discharge of the inner hind leg in the direction of movement. The   latter   leads   to   the   fact   that   one   no   longer   asks   whether   the   spinous   processes   tilt   inwards   or   outwards   -   they   move   forward   in   the   direction   of movement   like   a   shark's   fin.   Looking   at   the   horse's   body   as   a   tensegral   structure,   the   horse   charges   itself   in   the   respective   directions   of   rotation, the bones swing in the fascia net. Strictly   speaking,   as   a   rider   we   do   not   influence   the   exact   position   of   the   individual   bones,   rather   the   movement   amplitudes,   which   change   in relation to each other, as well as in the relation of different parts to each other ... Suppleness Basically,   not   just   the   horse   must   be   supple,   but   much   more   so   the   rider.   This   is   maybe   an   unusual   idea.   But   the   rider   sits   between   these   two imaginary   wingnuts   and   must   allow   and   support   the   balanced   tensegrity   of   the   entire   horse's   body   (and   of   their   own   body!)   with   the   correct   inner images   and   guidance   you   describe.   The   consequences   of   the   collapsing   entire   system   caused   by   the   rider   are   manifold   and   well-known.   ... because suppleness is often confused with being loose and physical activity of the rider often means "impact" rather than presence. The diaphragm as part of the musculoskeletal system The   central   linking   structure   between   "behind   and   front"   is   the   diaphragm   of   the   horse,   which   stretches   under   the   rider.   The   rider’s   breathing therefore also assumes an important function with regard to suppleness. With   the   big   subject   of   diaphragm   and   breathing   I   drift   away   from   the   original   subject   "directions   of   rotation"   (but   move   effectively   towards advertising:   This   will   be   one   of   the   topics   of   the   Gebrauchshaltungskonferenz!),   but   without   a   harmonious   and   stable   body   core   the   horse   lacks the   possibility   of   aligning   itself   to   the   plumb   line   of   motion   and   the   danger   of   deviation   from   the   desired   direction   of   thrust   power   is   great,   so   that the   diaphragm   should   probably   be   included   in   thoughts   about   the   directions   of   rotation.   This   topic   can   certainly   be   explored   further   elsewhere (see above) . " It's hard to concentrate on the translation because the topic is so interesting!" - Curtis ...   On   a   bend,   the   amplitudes   change   so   that   the   inner   inclination   of   the   pelvis   becomes   slightly   stronger   than   the   outer   and   the   inner   hip   lowers. However   we   have   to   remember   that   this   only   works   if   the   lumbosacral   transition   is   closed   /   stretched   and   the   knee   and   hip   joints   bend   under   load. If   the   lumbosacral   transition   is   open   /   flexed,   the   croup   rises   and   reaches   its   highest   point   in   the   middle   of   the   supporting   leg   phase   of   the   inner hind leg. "This   is   something   you   might   have   covered   in   a   previous   article   (I   can't   quite   envision   it),   but   your   anglophone   readers   won't   have   read   it." Sorry, we`ll translate that one too. The   sacral   bone   at   the   rear   of   the   torso   shows   the   sum   of   the   movement   amplitudes   of   the   rear   thoracic   and   lumbar   vertebrae   with   each   step   and constantly   changes   the   direction   of   rotation,   as   shown   by   the   pelvic   movement.   Or   do   the   vertebrae   connections   dampen   the   torsion   produced   by the   charging   and   discharging   of   the   haunches   in   the   spine?   As   soon   as   the   pelvic   rotation   towards   the   inside   becomes   too   strong,   the   sacrum   and thus   the   outer   hind   leg   dissociate   and   the   horse   “falls   out   over   the   outer   shoulder",   because   the   outer   hind   leg   can   no   longer   provide   directional thrust.   The   spine   can   no   longer   handle   the   torsion   and   "deviates".   Conversely,   you   could   argue   that   the   pelvis   dissociates   if   the   entire   torso structure   does   not   sufficiently   integrate   the   torsional   forces.   Here   we   arrive   at   the   necessity   of   training   the   core   structure   and   the   deep   torso   lines (fascia lines). Stabilizing "rear-wheel drive" The   impulse   for   useful   tension   must   come   from   the   hindquarters.   The   alignment   of   the   forces   developed   here   goes   forward   and   upwards   in   the direction   of   the   atlas   and   poll.   The   resulting   torsion   persists   in   the   entire   tensegral   body   structure   and   finds   its   stabilizing   and   limiting counterparts   in   the   opposite   rotation   of   the   atlas.   Ideally,   riders   will   feel   a   stable   system   beneath   them,   characterized   by   a   noticeable   shark-fin- like forward movement, as you call it. Since   tensegral   structures   in   the   horse   are   so   varied,   there   are   not   only   different   magnitudes   of   rotational   amplitudes   and   directions,   but   also different   strengths   and   load   bearing   capcities.   The   better   the   horse   uses   its   body,   the   more   stable   the   torso   area   becomes   under   load,   while   the neck   feels   lighter   and   more   mobile.   This   may   be   consistent   with   Steinbrecht’s   experience,   who   repeatedly   warned   against   working   the   horse's neck   loosely   before   it   has   developed   sufficient   strength.   Because   a   neck   with   a   light   feeling   only   feels   that   way   because   it   is   well   connected   to   the torso and the torso is guided by the neck. . .   Overall,   all   the   characteristics   that   a   horse   shows,   which   develops   its   power   from   the   hindquarters   and   transmits   it   forwards   via   the   pelvis   and sacrum.   The   hindquarters   are   therefore   responsible   for   the   forward   movement,   the   forehand   for   the   upward   movement.   Without   power   from   the hindquarters, the system collapses and the forehand must inevitably participate in the forward movement by pulling forward. Perspectives In   order   to   be   able   to   classify   the   relationship   correctly,   one   should   know   the   different   ideas   of   what   and   how   a   spine   is.   Different   views   lead   to different   conclusions. (1)   The   spine   as   a   loose   chain   of   vertebrae This   image   offers   too   many   possible   directions   of   movement,   bending   and torsional stiffness is too low. A structure like this is not resilient. > Horse not rideable System collapse due to hypermobility During   the   motion   assessment   of   a   horse   when   I   say   (admittedly   with   a   wink)   that   the   horse   is   not   stiff   enough   for me,   I   am   amazed   to   see   surprised   faces.   Anyone   who   thinks   "tensegrally"   knows   immediately   what   is   meant,   but very   often   I   come   up   against   a   rider's   desire   for   more   agility,   more   flexibility,   etc.   The   horse   is   described   as   stiff   and "fallen apart". During    movement    these    horses    don’t    lack    flexibility,    but    power    development    from    the    hindquarters    and    the possibility    of    power    transmission    to    the    overall    system.    The    hindquarters    lack    "forwards"    and    the    forehand "upwards".   Focusing   on   bending   ability   without   focusing   on   system   stabilization   and   power   direction,   in   my   opinion, leads   to   even   more   wobbly,   meandering   and   powerless   movements,   and   straight   into   the   pathological   motion   phase shift you describe in your second book so aptly. For   me,   clearly   visible   spinous   process   movements,   sternum   displacements   and   strong   pelvic   tilt   during   movement are   always   a   sign   of   collapse   of   tensegral   structure   in   the   sense   of   interaction   of   tension   elements   (myofascial system)   and   pressure   elements   (skeleton)   and   a   negative   expression   of   mobility   or   even   elasticity.   Elasticity   arises from   the   fact   that   the   soft   tissue   can   use   the   bones   for   stretching.   This   idea   makes   clear   that   the   skeleton   must always remain in the plumb line of motion, otherwise turbulence will arise in the system. I   think   that   torsional   forces   arising   from   pelvic   rotation   are   ideally   distributed   across   the   entire   spine,   where   they   are organized   and   used   by   the   smallest   vertebrae   rotations   of   "in   and   against   each   other".   These   small   movements   are maintained even when emphasized directions of movement take place in bends. (2)   Axis   on   which   vertebrae   are   lined   up If   you   imagine   the   spine   as   an   axis   on   which   the   vertebrae   are   lined   up,   it   is   conceivable   that individual   vertebrae   twist   on   the   axis   within   their   natural   range   of   motion   against   another,   which   inevitably   happens   when   you   want   to   bend   an axis,   without   allowing   rotation.   The   horse   follows   the   picture   that   the   rider   has   of   it   in   his   head   –   otherwise   I   cannot   explain   so   many   different types   of   movement!   Thus   little   physiologically   meaningful   bending   is   possible,   load   bearing   capacity   is   low.   >   Horse   rideable   but   constantly   in need   of   treatment. (3)   Tensegral   structure Together,   the   vertebrae   form   a   flexible,   rigid   and   torsion-resistant   structure   in   which   positive, strengthening   torsion   is   exerted   by   rotation   of   the   pelvis.   Very   important   here   is   the   property   of   tensegral   structures   to   respond   to   pressure   or tensile   load   with   rotation   and   immediately   become   stronger   and   more   resilient   under   load   by   torsion,   without   cramping.   Bend   and   rotation   always belong   together   here   and   are   mutually   dependent   on   each   other.   >   Horse   very   resilient,   but   not   ridable   when   working   with   inappropriate movement patterns..Reference vertebra Earlier,   I   introduced   the   term   "reference   point"   or   "reference   vertebra"   to   find   a   way   to   define   the   orientation   of   the   spiraling   spine   in   space.   The reference   point   always   refers   to   the   vertebra   in   the   plumb   line   of   motion   -   and   this   can   only   be   one   of   them   in   a   physiologically   useful   spiraling spine   over   its   entire   length.   At   least   in   a   horse,   a   snake   is   different.Let's   take   one   of   the   thoracic   vertebrae   in   the   withers   area   as   reference   point: Regardless   of   how   tiny   the   rotation   of   one   thoracic   vertebrae   to   another   is,   there   can   only   be   one   vertebra   in   the   plumb   line   of   motion.   All   of those   in   front   of   it   rotate   in   one   direction   with   respect   to   this   vertebra,   and   all   of   those   behind   it   rotate   in   the   other   direction.   Although   the direction of rotation of all vertebrae to their respective predecessor is the same. If   the   reference   point   is   in   the   last   lumbar   vertebra,   all   of   the   vertebrae   in   front   of   it   rotate   in   the   same   direction   with   respect   to   this   point,   albeit   in terms   of   precursors   and   successors   to   a   different   degree   in   different   spinal   regions.   So   if   the   pelvis   is   level,   the   spinous   processes   tilt   to   the   side and the cervical vertebra rotate even further in the same direction. If the third neck vertebra is vertical, the spinous processes lean sideways and the pelvis tilts even further in the same direction. Theses: Based   on   the   information   available   to   us   and   my   work   with   the   feeling   of   motion   in   connection   with   traction   engagement,   we   would   like   to advance the following theses: (1)   If   the   horse   is   set   very   low    (horses   nose   below   the   hip-cervicothoracic   line),   the   rib   cage   rotates   in   relation   to   the   pelvis   (or   with   the   pelvis, then   the   outer   hind   leg   lifts   off)   with   the   spinous   processes   inward.   The   outer   hip   rises.   The   cervical   vertebrae   rotate   inwards   **.   (The   vertical reference point / vertebra within the spiraled spine is located in the sacrum or behind the sacrum.) That’s   how   I   see   it   too   and   I   would   say   that   here   the   pelvic   and   atlas   rotation   take   place   the   wrong   way   round   in   the   sense   of   tensegral   power transmission.   The   horse   doesn’t   move   so   to   speak   "from   behind   to   forwards   upwards",   but   "forwards   to   forwards-downwards".   The   question   now is also how the myofascial lines behave in the respective body posture patterns. My   observation   is   that   in   this   case   of   a   deep   head   and   neck   position,   the   horse   puts   the   muscular   action   base   forward   in   the   shoulder   area   due   to the   strong   emphasis   on   the   load   of   the   forehand.   Here   I   see   the   spiral   line   and   the   lateral   line   in   the   foreground.   The   overloading   of   the   large   torso carrier   (M.   serratus   ventralis   thoracis)   and   member   of   the   spiral   line   causes   the   loss   of   overall   movement,   the   muscular   action   of   the   torso   support and   thus   the   lifting   and   stabilization   of   the   torso.   The   direction   of   power   from   the   front   legs   and   torso   carriers   are   no   longer   directed   against   the rider's weight. Further   along   the   spiral   line,   the   m.   obliquus   externus   abdominis   (outer   oblique   abdominal   muscle)   works   more   markedly   than   the   opposing internal   oblique   abdominal   muscle.   Thus,   the   stabilization   of   the   rib   cage   is   at   risk   and   it   goes   into   external   rotation   in   bends   (spinous   processes inwards, sternum outwards). I   also   find   the   working   method   of   the   lateral   lines   very   interesting,   especially   the   very   often   neglected   abdominal   skin   muscle   (m.   cutaneus   colli), which   in   the   thorax   area   represents   the   outermost   planar   and   thick   (up   to   3   cm!)   muscle   layer.   It   is   more   prominent   in   the   front   torso   area   and strongly   involved   in   lateral   balance.   When   a   horse   is   heavy   on   the   forehand   this   muscle   is   in   my   opinion   not   sufficiently   stretched   from   the   rear movement base (hindquarters) and cannot develop its stabilizing effect. As   I   understood   the   first   study   by   W.   Södring-Elbrond,   the   lateral   lines   are   best   balanced   with   their   intersecting   features   in   a   medium   head   and neck position. That would be another topic for a post. : D (2)   If   the   horse   shows   a   high   head   and   neck   position   and   at   the   same   time   a   downward   sloping   hip-cervicothoracic   line ,   the   pelvis   rotates with   the   inner   hip   up,   the   spinous   processes   point   outward.   The   cervical   vertebrae   rotate   inwards   **.   (The   vertical   reference   point   /   vertebra within the spiraled spine is in the middle of the cervical spine.) In   a   high   head-neck   position   with   low-lying   cervicothoracic   transition,   an   extension   position   prevails   in   the   spine,   which   usually   leads   to   a compensatory   steepness   of   the   pelvis.   Either   with   lumbar   spine   in   extension,   or   very   often   also   in   flexion.   The   steep   position   leads   to   flexion,   or opening   of   the   lumbosacral   transition.   For   me,   this   posture   always   represents   a   complete   collapse   of   the   myofascial   lines   with   loss   of   the   desired forward   and   upward   movement.   In   the   collapsed   lumbosacral   transition,   the   power   transfer,   especially   the   spiral   line   opening   into   the   superficial dorsal line and the dorsal line itself is hampered due to a lack of traction engagement. (3)   If   the   cervicothoracic   transition   and   hip   are   in   line   with   the   horse's   mouth    (3)   If   the   cervicothoracic   transition   and   hip   are   in   line   with   the horse's   mouth   (or   at   least   on   a   horizontal   line),   the   rib   cage   remains   in   the   plumb   line   of   motion,   the   pelvis   tilts   inward   and   the   cervical   vertebrae rotate outward ***. (The vertical reference point / vertebra within the spinal column is in the thoracic area in the region of the true ribs.) Ideally,   a   closed   lumbosacral   transition   in   neutral   position   ensures   the   work   of   the   lines   and   vice   versa   muscular   active   work   of   the   lines   ensures power   transfer   in   the   lumbosacral   transition.   This   becomes   particularly   clear   if   you   look   at   how   much   the   lumbosacral   transition   region   is spanned   by   muscles   and   fasciae.   My   picture   here   is   that   this   is   only   possible   if   the   action   base   for   forward   movements   is   at   the   back   and   that   for upward   movement   is   at   the   front.   Only   the   vigorous   forward   movement   out   of   the   rear   action   base   allows   the   front   base   to   have   a   righting, muscular   dominant,   supporting   motion.   Successful   interaction   preserves   the   physiological   movement   phases   of   the   limbs.   The   spine   and   ribcage remain   in   balance   and,   as   an   almost   "stabilizing   pole",   they   enable   balanced   muscle   action,   in   whatever   form.   For   the   transmission   of   motion these lead to an essential positive "stiffening" of the spine. Looking   at   uniformly   trained   horses   according   to   a   particular   doctrine,   you   can   come   to   the   conclusion   that   it   cannot   be   any   other   way.If   you compare the doctrines with one other, you will find all the above variations and probably a few others. The   big   question   for   me   is:   Is   it   good   the   way   it   is   -   or   is   it   just   the   way   it   is   for   lack   of   workable   alternatives?   Is   what   I   mostly   observe   good because   everyone   is   doing   it?   Is   the   norm,   which   can   be   seen   everywhere,   desirable   for   me   and/or   my   horse?   Why?   How   does   the   standard change from riding style to riding style? What do powerful, cooperative movement-competent horses have in common? *   In   November   2017,   Maike   Knifka    did   advanced   training   with   Wiebeke   Södring-Elbrond   on   the   deep   fascia   lines   of   the   horse,   which   also included   a   post-mortem   examination.   I   am   glad   that   these   lines,   the   existence   of   which   I   presumed   when   writing   "Beyond   Biomechanics   - Biotensegrity", are now also proven. And what does the neck do? The   direction   of   rotation   must   run   opposite   to   my   definition   of   the   bend   here,   so   bending   to   the   left,   rotation   to   the   right.   (So   ​​that   our   towel   does not   have   to   change   direction   right   in   the   middle.)   That's   the   way   it   feels   when   riding,   when   it's   really   good.   My   piebald   agrees,   we’ll   describe   it   in the   next   post.   Or   in   the   one   after   that.   Rotation   of   the   neck   in   bending   direction****   we   have   when   scratching   behind   the   ear   with   a   hoof.   The sacrum then rotates against the bending direction****, the inside of the pelvis rises ... Dechaotisation of directions: ** Therapist's view: cervical vertebrae rotate outward *** Therapist's view: Cervical vertebrae rotate inwards *** Therapist view: left rotation, the underside of the cervical vertebra moves to the left **** From the therapist's perspective against the bending direction, sacrum in bending direction
Abdominal muscle,left side of the body,view on belly bottom (c) Maike Knifka