Oblique chains: The supplementary core chains

Refresh your understanding:

  • Osteitis Pubis is caused when adductors are overworked over time.
  • Your personal biomechanics (the patterns that fire your muscles/move your joints) lead to the OP mechanics (hip drop, pronation, anterior pelvic tilt, locked SIJ and knocked knees) that cause OP.
  • Your personal biomechanics must be corrected to stop overloading your adductors.
  • The Deep Front Line (DFL) is the foundation of your body, responsible for the stability and alignment of your entire body. The DFL relies on 6 biomechanical/functional systems (arches, glutes, core, SIJ/Pelvic Floor, Oblique Chains, Balance).
  • Dysfunction/lack of coordination in and between these 6 systems leads to the poor OP mechanics that cause OP.
  • By maintaining good alignment (centre of gravity) the load/force of movement can be evenly distributed across the entire length of the DFL (and therefore the body) rather than being concentrated in the adductors.
  • The arch ensures a stable foundation to your DFL. The glutes ensure that your hip (and therefore femur, the longest bone in your body) is safely secure in its socket.
  • The core’s role is to ensure the stability and alignment of the pelvis, lower spine (lumbar) and rib cage within the DFL.
  • The pelvis can be stabilized through either form or force closure.
    • Form closure involves contracting the pelvic floor and locking the Sacroilliac joint (SIJ). Form closure provides maximum stability with minimal to no mobility.
    • Force closure involves engaging the deep core, stabilizing the SIJ through muscular/fascial activation. This leaves the SIJ released (unlocked) for running and walking etc, but it is not as stable as in form closure.

Sometimes the DFL needs help

Most human movements (running etc) require split leg movements with a released, unlocked SIJ. At times these movements can go beyond the ability of the deep core/DFL to stabilize and control the SIJ. This is when the Oblique chains are required.

Your body is a moving train.  It only works well when its on the tracks and within its limits. Try to swing your leg without the DFL pulling your hip into its socket and you’re in trouble. When working the DFL does a great job of keeping you in alignment, dissipating the load of movement evenly across the body.

But there are times when the demands of movement become too great, such as when you jump off objects or change direction at top speed. These movements outstretch the stabilising abilities of the DFL.

The DFL is constructed primarily of slow twitch, fascially dominant muscles. The fascia within your DFL acts like your old trusty hammock; as you sink into it the hammock stretches to absorb and support your entire bodyweight. The hammock never gets tied or worn out. When you get out it simply springs back to its original shape. The DFL, like your hammock, can stabilize you 24/7 and never be worse for wear…but your hammock has its limits. Add a second person or jump in too quickly and the material will rip.

Muscles are the extra support the DFL needs. They kick in when your DFL/fascial stability needs an extra boost. When the stability crisis is over the muscles can switch off and relax. The DFL has stamina, but when the load of movement (run, jump, land or change of direction) outstrips the DFL’s strength, it needs help.

The oblique chains are the system which helps the DFL in moments of stability crisis. In a stability crisis the Oblique chains will fire to supplement/augment the strength of the DFL. They are an emergency reserve of stability that you only want to use when absolutely required.

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Oblique chains: What are they?

posterior-oblique-chain-with-arrows anterior-oblique-chain

There are two oblique chains: the anterior and posterior oblique chain.

The Anterior Oblique chain (AOC) connects your oblique muscles (your side abs) across your pelvis to your adductors (specifically the adductor longus) on the opposite side.

The Posterior Oblique chain (POC) connects your latissimus dorsi (large lower back and shoulder muscle) to the gluteus maximus on the opposite leg.

The adductor longus acts as the conduit for the Anterior Oblique chain to the Deep Front Line. The glute max connects the Posterior Oblique chain to the DFL through the hip stabilisers in the glute system. Both of these anchor/conduit muscles ensure that the powerful contractions of both the obliques (AOC) and latissimus dorsi (POC) is transferred into the DFL.

The challenging nature of split leg movements

running-behind-neutral-arrows

Most real world movements are split leg movements (one leg forward, one leg back). Split leg positions are particularly challenging for stability because they involve each side of your pelvis moving in a different direction. To move your pelvis in separate directions you have to release your SIJ, trading the stability of a locked pelvis for the mobility of an unlocked pelvis (force closure).

The deep core/DFL is responsible for providing stability when the pelvis is unlocked.

Explosive movements; moving beyond the DFL

Running sends 8x your bodyweight through each foot strike. This load is only amplified as you jump, twist, turn and change direction.

athletic-change

Explosive movements often require your body to lean further in one direction, gathering force to powerfully contract in the opposite direction.

These challenging movements require the less stable, more mobile force closed Sacroilliac Joint. The deep core/DFL cannot provide enough stability and control in these challenging movements to maintain a safe force closed SIJ.

The body has two choices in these situations. Lock the SIJ, creating the compensatory pelvic twisting/rotations that cause OP or engage the oblique chains. The oblique chains can supplement the stability of the DFL.  This safely maintains both the stability and mobility of force closure.

Oblique chains: the supplementary ‘rails’

missing-oblique-chain-running

If the DFL provide the ‘rails’ of good posture then the oblique chains are the emergency support, kicking in during moments of stability crisis to yank you back into the safety of the DFL.

Dominant oblique chains: the consequences of the DFL failing

When the Deep Front Line fails OP patients often over recruit and over use the Oblique chains to compensate. This has several undesired consequences.

pelvic-sway-running

The Oblique chains are powerful. Because they cross the body they have the ability to twist and rotate the rib cage, pelvis and lower legs. Many muscular and structural imbalances, including leg length differences, hiked hips and twisted rib cages, can be traced back to over active oblique chains.

If the DFL, in particular the deep core, is dysfunctional then the pelvis/SIJ will remain locked. In this situation the Oblique chains will pull the entire pelvis, which exacerbates the muscular and structural imbalances.

These imbalances overload and overwork the adductors, leading to OP.

Fixing OP involves coordinating and rebalancing the oblique chains with the DFL

Without the additional strength of the Oblique chains high intensity exercise such as sprinting, changing direction, jumping and weight lifting would be impossible. However dominant, over active Oblique chains only serve to pull the body into poor alignment.

Fixing OP firstly involves strengthening the DFL to its maximum capacity to provide stability. From there the Oblique chains can be engaged, strengthening and rebalancing their connection to the DFL to provide a powerful, resilient reserve of stabilizing strength.

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