Google the word ‘serape’ and an array of brightly colored blankets will appear on your screen. This makes sense – a serape serves as a shawl or blanket worn as a cloak in Latin America. Now google ‘serape and exercise.’ Fashion and exercise – well, yes, especially at places like Lulu and Ralph. Aside from workout gear, there also exists a muscle scarf, of sorts. Serape who, you ask. Let us break it down for you.
Just beneath your skin lies a complex network of connective tissue called fascia. This thin sheath of fibrous tissue encloses muscle, acting like a straight jacket of sorts. With this said, these muscular compartments that we see on giant anatomy posters or read about in health news articles have, in a way, compartmentalized how we view our bodies. Fascia connects muscles just as much as it separates, if not more so. Muscular guide wires, fascia helping you to move well, stand straight and play hard.
This leads us to what is known as the ‘serape effect.’ The original serape effect was presented by kinesiologists Logan and McKinney in 1970, although the origin of oblique system may be traced to the early 1900s. The serape effect provides some insight into the force generation patterns used by the body to transfer forces across the core – that dreaded core that so many either love or despise. Logan and McKinney’s original serape looks like a giant scarf (hence the term serape) wrapped around the back of the neck, crosses the front of the body, and tucks into the pant line.
From the serape effect came Vleeming’s more in-depth APS model – the anterior posterior serape, involving the anterior and posterior oblique systems. The APS describes how muscles and tendons do not
connect directly to bone, rather they connect to one another transmitting force along pathways arranged in series fashion along spiraling lines. The interplay of these scarf-like patterns of muscular contractions provides the rotational power we see
in many sports and functional activities.
Who cares about all of this stuff? Certainly wellness practitioners think it’s important. And guess what…YOU probably should too.
The serape effect and APS are responsible for both rotational and vertical activities – from swinging a bat or golf club, to getting up out of a chair. Fascia links the muscles together in interconnected chains; myofascial lines’ functioning can be improved through integrated exercises and movements that link the muscles functionally, through dynamic, coordinated movement patterns.
Keeping your muscles and fascial system healthy might be one of the fastest — and most overlooked — ways to improve your health and fitness! Start by making smart exercises choices involving multidimensional full body movements. You were born to move!
For more information, check out the references listed below. You might also find, MFR, Kinesis Myofascial Integration and Fascial Stretch Therapy interesting, too!
Heffernan, Andrew. (November 2011). The Web of Life. Retrieved from https://experiencelife.com/article/the-web-of-life/
Logan G and McKinney W. The serape effect. In: Anatomical Kinesiology (3rd ed).
Lockhart A, ed. Dubuque, IA: Brown, 1970. pp. 287–302.
Brown, Lee, and Stuart Mcguill. Anterior and Posterior Serape. In: Strength and Conditioning Journal. October 2015.
Meyers, Thomas. (2014). Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists. (3rd ed.) Churchill Livingstone: Italy.
Vleeming A. Anatomical linkages and muscle slings of the lumbopelvic region. In: Movement, Stability and Lumbopelvic Pain: Integration of Research and Therapy (2nd ed). Vleeming A, Mooney V, and Stoeckart R, eds. London, United Kingdom: Elsevier, 2007. pp. 47–62.
Vleeming A, Pool-Goudzwaard AL, Stoeckart R, van Wingerden JP, and Snijders CJ. The posterior layer of the thoracolumbar fascia. Its function in load transfer from spine to legs. Spine 20: 753–758, 1995.
Author: Julia Anthony
B.S. Exercise Specialist, CSCS, NASM CPT