:: Text 02 - Feet - The foot, thai massage and its influence anterior lines of the body
by Diego Marquete
“Even the tallest towers started from the ground.” (Chinese proverb)
In the same way the sole of the foot interacts with the posterior lines of the body, the dorsal part of the foot does with the anterior lines, which mainly influence body flexion and anteversion. Flexion of the trunk is correlated with the anterior lines which, when unbalanced, make the shoulders and the head pull forward. That causes the chest to cave in, mainly affecting the breathing.
The anterior lines counterbalance the posterior lines mentioned in text 1 by exerting reverse tension forces. The Ittha and Pingkhla posterior lines, which leave the part above the eye (supraorbital) and run down the back alongside the spine, when balanced must have enough energy to pull on the body, extending it in the cephalic-caudal direction (from head to feet). At the same time, in the anterior lines we have a caudal-cephalic pull (from feet to head). If one of these lines weakens, the other is influenced and balance in the body is compromised, either posturally, energetically or viscerally.
These imbalances can be caused by weaking of the line or stagnation of its energy, an obstruction which many times can be physically perceived in muscle shortening and in the presence of nodules.
The main anterior lines of the body -- Sumana, Sahatsarangsi and Tawari -- can be analyzed when a first visual contact with the patient is made. Viewed from the front, he or she may present one side of the body different from the other or a caved-in chest. This forward-curved thoracic posture greatly affects the Sen Sumana line, which goes from the tip of the tongue to the navel region. When this line is worked on, there are many benefits, including fewer headaches, better breathing and improved sleep quality - three conditions often associated with one another.
Bodywork focused on the Sen Sumana line releases tension in the muscles that attach to the sternum (such as the pectoralis major), to the costal cartilages (such as the subclavius muscle) and to the ribs (such as the pectoralis minor, an accessory respiratory muscle). Work done on this line decreases the respiratory restriction of the anterior ribs, opens up the chest and corrects forward head posture, thus contributing to better alignment between the sternum and the zygomatic bone.
This alignment between the sternum and the zygomatic bone alleviates the posterior tension between the occiput and the first cervical vertebra. As a result, some types of headache and face pain are relieved. The upper airways are also decompressed, thus influencing breathing and snoring during sleep.
Lateral to Sumana, the Sahatsarangsi and Tawari lines can be traced from the head by lines that go from the eyes towards the iliac crests. From there, they run down the thighs in vastus lateralis, reaching the tibialis anterior and then the feet, where after going around the malleoli they cross over in the distal region of the metatarsals. They go up medially alongside the tibia and on up the thigh between the rectus femoris and the vastus medialis, finally reaching the navel, its point of origin.
The region of the foot where these lines cross over from lateral to medial is related to the diaphragm muscle in reflexology. Anatomically, it is one of the insertion points of the tibialis anterior, muscle of the shinbone related to line 1 of the lower limbs in Thai massage and to the stomach meridian in Chinese medicine.
Work on the tibialis anterior relieves pain in the leg and foot due to the myofascial connection of the tibialis anterior to the muscles of the thigh such as the quadriceps. Manipulation of the tibialis anterior alleviates tension in the anterior superior and anterior inferior iliac spines when they are pullig the hip forward, causing increased lordosis and low back pain.
The use of Thai massage techniques to work the foot on the region of insertion of the tibialis anterior decreases the forces that pull the hip forward and that increase lordosis. As we release this pattern, the iliopsoas muscles relax and as a consequence, we directly affect the mechanics of the diaphragm muscle, which starts to work with greater amplitude. Breathing is thus improved. The human body works best when all its parts are in harmony.
In practical terms, in Thai reflexology when we massage the foot with the aim of influencing the anterior lines, we do so by simple movements such as moving around the malleoli, sliding the thumb at point ST41 (talocrural joint), sliding the thumb on the tibialis anterior (line 1) and on the four lines on the dorsum of the foot, which will also affect breathing due to their relation to the diaphragm in reflexology.