The human body is incredibly complex. When you move, it requires the co-ordination and contraction of many different parts of the body with nothing working in isolation. Muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia work in unison together to generate efficient and effective body movement. As physiotherapists, we assess holistically when examining what factors can be contributing to an injury. For example, the action of throwing a tennis ball not only utilises the upper limb and shoulder, but also relies on good core strength and co-ordination with your lower body. Our physiotherapist Vernon Mittal investigates what we commonly refer to as “anatomical slings” or “myofascial slings” and how this contributes to safe and effective movement. These slings are comprised of both superficial and deep muscles.
What are muscle slings?
Your muscle or myofascial slings consist of different types of soft tissue including muscles, fascia and ligaments that are interconnected to one another to provide stability and mobility. These structures work together when muscles contract to produce movement of the body. The body consists of 4 main slings which when working effectively help us move better, produce more force and create more speed and power. Essentially, these slings help transfer force between our upper and lower limb whilst providing a stable core.
We know that when there is a weak component in a sling, it can create dysfunction resulting in reduce performance and increased likelihood of injury. Equally important, injury to a component of the sling can result in dysfunction if not effectively rehabilitated.
What are the types of muscle slings?
There are 4 types of swings:
Posterior Oblique Sling (POS):
– Consists of Latissimus Dorsi, opposite Gluteus Maximus and the Thoracolumbar fascia (TLF)
– Connects from glute to opposite shoulder.
– Weakness in hip muscles can cause pain into opposite shoulder during activity.
– Important for throwing when foot is planted and arm “cocked” back.
Anterior Oblique Sling (AOS):
– Consists of external and internal oblique and opposite adductor muscles.
– Connects from obliques to the groin.
– Lack of trunk rotation with activity can overload the opposite groin causing injury; vice versa.
– Important for throwing prior to when the ball is released.
Deep Longitudinal Sling (DLS):
– Consists of erector spinae, multifidus, TLF, sacrotuberous ligament and biceps femoris
– Connects entire spinal muscles, SIJ ligament and hamstring
– Keeps the SIJ in a close packed position.
– Commonly affected in those with regular hamstring strains and low back pain.
Lateral Sling (LS):
– Consists of gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, tenso fascia latae and illitibial band
– Connects from lateral hip muscles to the lateral knee
– Common conditions that affect this sling include ITB syndrome, runners knee
– Common sign of weakness in this sling include Trendelenburg gait which is common in those with hip osteoarthritis or post-operative total hip replacements.
Your physiotherapist will assess your injury in the context of how it may affect your myofascial sling. It is crucial to ensure that these slings are working optimally to prevent future or recurrent injuries. If you have been experiencing recurrent soft tissue injuries, book an appointment with our team by calling or booking online.