Let's Get Functional (Lines)

Let's Get Functional!

As football seasons end, Cricketers start winding up, and Ash Barty season continues it seems to me a perfect time to talk about the Functional Lines.  These fascia tracks are the reason we have smooth and powerful asymmetrical movements in walking, rowing, bowling, kicking, racquet swinging, and all the other athletic movements. So, even though I can't currently work on those "hammie" strains and shoulder dysfunctions, I figure we can at least talk about how to avoid them. 

Functional Lines

The functional lines consist of the myofascial connections that help to support the cross-body postures outside of the normal resting phase.  They provide stability or counterbalance while in movement.  The three lines are the Front Functional Line (FFL), the Back Functional Line (BFL), and the Ipsilateral Functional LIne (IFL) (Myers, 2021). 

The tracks of the functional lines include the myofascias: 

  • The Front Functional Line (FFL):
    • Pectoralis major
    • rectus abdominis
    • adductor longus
  • The Back Functional Line (BFL):
    • Latissiums dorsi
    • fascia along lumbodorsal region
    • fascia along sacral region
    • Gluteus maximus
    • Vastus lateralis
    • the subpatellar tendon
  • The Ipsilateral Functional Line (IFL):
    • Latissimus dorsi
    • External oblique
    • Sartorious

This group of muscles and fascias form an "X" across the front and back of the body to connect opposite shoulders to hips.  The IFL then runs from shoulder down to same side inner knee.  As mentioned above, this group is not used for standing posture, but becomes the stabilizing force behind function in movement.

What problems occur?

As massage therapists, we get to see the issues that occur along the functional lines most prominently in athletic people.  For example, when a cricket player comes to me for low-back pain.  Why would a cricket player have low-back pain? Consider the function of the line in movement during a bowl…

The player runs in for the bowl, winds-up, then releases the ball.  During the wind-up the BFL is short while the FFL is long.  On release of the ball, the opposite occurs.  Post release, the BFL is still assisting the movement in the bowl as it helps to “brake” the forward motion of bowling rather than putting all the motion’s burden onto the shoulder alone.

The pain therapists work on is indicative of the “weakest link” within that train of fascia.  Remember, the BFL passes through the latissimus dorsi (lats).  Bowlers often experience a pulling or stabbing feeling at the medial line along the lumbar spine, which can inhibit future play.  Remedial massage helps to release the tension within the fascia at this point as well as the fascia pulling in various points along the lines because of the weak link.  Preventative measures involve strengthening the back through the hips. This is especially true for you hip-dominant bowlers.  

Strength will allow the functional lines to improve form and technique.

Don’t forget to add in proper recovery techniques.  For the BFL, I highly suggest the triangle pose from yoga.  Tom Myers,  author of Anatomy Trains, suggests this as well along with stretching the FFL by kneeling while reaching one arm at a time up and back (2021, p. 144).

The functional lines are important stabilizers and powerful compliments through contralateral movements.  Therapists will test through palpation and active assessment to discover any areas that need our attention.  Often, we are already checking your contralateral movement as we assess your gait when you're walking into the clinic room, but you know your body best.  So, if you're in training or you think you may have an issue in your functional lines, please book with us as soon as you can, or feel free to contact us at info@keepmovingmassage.com.au and one of us will get back to you with at-home options while in lockdown.



Anatomy Trains. [poster images]. (2014). www.anatomytrains.com

Myers, T. (2021). Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians ofr Manual and Movement Therapists, (4th ed.).

PNG images. Clipart for web designs: soccer player. pngimaging.com

Ward, J. (2021). Personal image: cricket bowl. 

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