Can acupuncture points be better understood through myofascial anatomy? To answer this question I will demonstrate how this applies to the traditional indications of the Four Horses.
Most widely known for treating respiratory and skin disorders, the Four Horses are also indicated for hypochondriac pain, sciatica, lumbar pain, ear and eye disorders. In this post I will concentrate on costal pain, lumbar disorders, and respiratory conditions.
The image in the center reveals the muscular and fascial components of the Superficial Front Line (SFL). In many regards the SFL is similar to the stomach meridian. The image on the left shows the location of the Four Horses (88.17, 88.18, 88.19) located in rectus femoris and vastus lateralis. The image on the right shows how the abdominis rectus muscle and pectoralis major converge on the sternum. The white material in this image is the fascia.
Before we continue our discussion let's do two simple exercises to demonstrate how mechanical forces (qi) from muscle contractions get transmitted through the SFL and stomach meridian.
First contract your abdominal muscles as tight as you can, pull the stomach muscles in and squeeze. Hold the contraction and try to keep everything else relaxed. Focus solely on contracting and tightly squeezing your abdomen.
Now, while holding the contraction notice how tension develops in both the quadriceps and sternal area. You can feel the tension move from the abdomen to the quads and chest right?
Good, now for the next exercise relax for a few moments and take a look at the pictures above again. Really - take a look at them again.
Ok, for the next exercise take a seated position and then straighten and extend one leg up. Doing this contracts the quads. Now squeeze and contract your quads as tight as you can. Feel the burn of muscular contraction as you hold it. Try to keep everything else relaxed. Hold it, and notice how you feel tightness develop into the abdomen and sternum. You may even notice tightness develop in the SCM muscles.
Those exercises demonstrate how force transmission (qi) move through the meridians and myofascial lines.
How does this relate to acupuncture?
When we place acupuncture needles in the Four Horses and other stomach meridian points like stomach 36 (ST 36) and stomach 40 (ST 40), mechanical forces get transmitted through the myofascia when we twirl the needles.
The exercises demonstrate how applying a mechanical force (in this case a muscular contraction) to the abdomen or quads has a direct effect on the chest. Ok, so the Four Horses can treat respiratory disorders and mechanical forces transmitted through the myofascia seem to play a role in this.
Other Traditional Indications
Remember that the Four Horses are also indicated for costal and hypochondriac pain. How can this be?
Returning to the myofascial anatomy of this line we find that the sternalis muscle and fascia from the pecs and abdominis rectus connect to the sternum. What else connects to the sternum?
The ribs - hence we have a direct anatomical connection between the ribs, sternum, SFL, Four Horses and stomach meridian. Try the Four Horses for costal pain, they work very well in many cases.
The Four Horses for Lung Deficiency Back Pain
What does that mean? I considered that for years and was never really satisfied with an answer. The 5 - Element explanation, as lovely and poetical as it is never really satisfied my intellectual mind. However, I love the transformative effects of 5 - Element dance.
So how can the Four Horses be used for treating back pain? Well, I'm going to propose another explanation. The first time I saw profound results using these points for lumbar pain was with a client that had both low back and hip pain. She also had locked knees as seen in the image below.
When the knees are chronically locked, like in the image above, it places the quadriceps in chronic contraction. This can also be associated with an anterior pelvic tilt and excessive lordosis in the lumbar spine. She had hip and lumbar pain with locked knees. Four Horses here we go....Yippie Kie Yay!
I needled the points with the intention of releasing the chronic contraction being held in the quads and pelvis.
There's a lot more I could say about this, but I have already written extensively about all of this in my courses.
To summarize what we have discussed and return to my original question, "Can acupuncture points really be better understood through myofascial anatomy?"
Yes, acupuncture point functions can be much better understood through myofascial anatomy.
I hope that the exercises and discussions on how the Four Horses can also be used for treating costal pain, lumbago, and hip conditions gives you food for thought.
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