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Integrated Anatomy for the New Millennium

As a personal trainer, you will need to be familiar with and in some cases discuss anatomy. Anatomists have developed a universally acceptable set of reference terms that enable body structures to be located and identified with a high degree of clarity. Without this distinctive vocabulary, you will likely experience some confusion.

I would like to share how traditional anatomical terminology can be functionally applied by exploring how muscles function concentrically, eccentrically and isometrically. Understanding how a muscle functions and interacts through the entire muscle action spectrum allows the personal trainer to assess and exercise select more effectively! This article is designed to explore the integrated function of the muscular system leading to improved anatomical awareness, which in turn improves assessment skills and exercise program selection.

Why Integrated Functional Anatomy?

Traditionally, anatomy is taught topographically. It is an approach that was developed to map the body, answer questions about our body structures and categorize the parts. Topographic anatomy, however, is unable to answer complex questions such as: how do the spine, pelvis, arms and legs function as an integrated system as in real life?

Everyday function is integrated and multidimensional, not isolated. Traditional exercises have focused on training isolated regions of the body, often utilizing single, fixed pl anes of motion.For example, functionally, the hamstrings work to eccentrically decelerate knee extension, hip flexion and tibial internal rotation as well as assist in concentric hip extension.The hamstrings also dynamically stabilize the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and the tibio-femoral joint during everyday movements. Commonly, to strengthen the hamstrings we lay clients prone on the hamstring curl machine and have them perform isolated, concentric stabilized contractions without integration from the rest of the kinetic chain (neural system, muscle system and articular system).

To break this non-functional paradigm, the health and fitness professional must learn traditional anatomy for accurate communication purposes and integrated anatomy for APPLICATION purposes. The anatomical terms presented in this article enable you to assess your understanding of anatomical terminology both traditionally and functionally to describe the body and the interaction of its many parts.

Key muscles will be presented along with an overview of how the muscle works concentrically, eccentrically and isometrically.

Integrated Functional Anatomy
















Designing an exercise program requires the health and fitness professional to understand many interconnected training concepts. An appreciation of the interdependence of anatomy is critical when designing a program. All muscles function in all three planes of motion and through the entire muscle action spectrum (eccentric, isometric, concentric). In addition, it is evident that several muscles work synergistically to produce force, stabilize the body and/or reduce force.

The health and fitness professional must remember that the kinetic chain is interdependent. For example, if the anterior tibialis is weak, a client will most likely experience increased eccentric overload to the posterior tibialis, soleus and flexor hallucis longus as well as increased hip flexor activity during the swing phase of gait. Increased hip flexor activity commonly causes increased stress at the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. This brief example explains how a weak anterior tibialis can cause or at least be connected with low back pain. Therefore, the greater the understanding of functional anatomy, the better health and fitness professionals can design exercise programs.