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According to our General Theory of Mental Physiology the body has four muscular structural chains. The Anterior Left, Anterior Right and Posterior Left and Right chains. The anterior chains begin at the Longus muscles (deep neck flexors) and the posterior chains begin at the semispinalis muscles (deep neck extensors). There is then a chain of muscles that continues down the body which together hold the body up and maintain proper skeletal shape.  

Weakened deep neck muscles leads to nerve compression in the neck which leads to muscular imbalances in the body, these imbalances lead to the deep neck musculature becoming ‘trapped’ due to a failure to activate as a result of changing skeletal shape, and in turn the physical (and mental) dysfunction condition becomes chronic. 

We have found that to rehabilitate the deep neck musculature it becomes necessary to also activate as many muscles along the respective structural chain. This seems to be because the deep neck muscles are relatively weak and don’t have much ‘pulling power’, however the rest of the chain has a lot of power to change the body’s orientation and when the chain has weakened, the shape of the spine and skeleton change to create a physically stable form that can hold the body upright. However this physically stable platform leads to mental dysfunction as it changes the direction of pull on the cranium which in turn leads to changes in personality, thoughts, feelings, ideas etc. and these changes are usually negative or changes.

The muscles of the anterior structural chain are:

  • Temporalis

  • Longus Colli & Capitis

  • Rectus Capitis Anterior and Lateralis

  • Infraspinatus

  • Serratus Anterior

  • Lower Trapezius

  • Biceps

  • Anterior Deltoids

  • Iliopsoas

 

The muscles of the posterior structural chain are:

  • Semispinalis Cervicis and Capitis 

  • Rectus Capitis Major and Minor

  • Obliquus Capitis Superior and Inferior

  • Upper Trapezius

  • Levator Scapulae

  • Supraspinatus

  • Triceps

  • Posterior Deltoid

  • Latissimus Dorsi

  • Gluteus Maximus and Minimus

 

Breathing Accessory Muscles

Understanding and considering breathing accessory muscles is of critical importance. These muscles are found around the neck region and can usually help with moving the neck as well as assisting with breathing when required.

 

The breathing accessory muscles are: 

  • Sternocleidomastoid

  • Scalenes

  • Longissimus capitis

  • Pectoralis major

  • Trapezius

  • External intercostals

 

Since diaphragmatic breathing is usually inhibited, due to compression of the phrenic nerve (especially for the Anxiety, Bipolar and ADD patterns) there is likely to be compensatory breathing assistance. However this leads to a changing of the forces on the cranium, which we are trying to avoid.

 

From experience it seems that understanding that these muscles are often activated due to their role in breathing as well as a direct muscular compensation, means we can use breathing techniques to help deactivate them, while strengthening the weakened structural chains.

Connections with Janda’s Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes

It’s worth noting that anterior and posterior structural chains closely resemble Vladmir's Janda’s Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS) and Lower Crossed Syndromes (LCS). This is not accidental, much of what we have found started by first considering the UCS and LCS patterns.

 

However the UCS and LCS only consider which muscles are chronically activated or inhibited. It doesn’t really explain the function of specific muscles, whether they are structural or compensatory, and how they relate to changing mental function. So we can say that our idea of structural chains is an elaboration on top of the concept of the UCS and LCS.

Anterior and Posterior Structural Chains