Mézières’ Six Fundamental Laws
- The muscles belonging to a Muscle Chain (MC), whatever their number, behave like a single muscle. In effect then, the shortening of one muscle in a MC results in the shortening of the whole chain.next two laws stem from this first one.
- They always end up hypertonic and too short.
Due to the overlapping nature of the muscles in a MC, the tone of each muscle adds to the tone of all the others in the chain to form a very strong unit. This inherent strength explains why the MCs are the first to be engaged in any movement we make. Whatever the stimulus, (to name but a few – pain, stress, heat, cold, lengthening or shortening) the MC knows only one response: to increase tone and therefore to shorten itself. Nobody is perfect and certainly nobody uses their body in a perfect way and, as a result, the shortening of our MCs is inevitable.
Under these conditions, there exists an inescapable imbalance in muscle tone between the muscles in a MC (mainly in the back of the body) and those not in a MC (generally in the front of the body). For example, the abdominal muscles and the quadriceps (the big muscle on the front of the thighs) do not form MCs and they always end up weak and lacking in tone (hypotonic).
- Any localised action in a MC, either shortening or even lengthening, results in the immediate shortening of the entire chain.
This law explains why our daily activities, even where they include sport, a fitness regime or simple stretching, cannot lengthen a MC. It also means that focussing on a specific problem area does not work. Any change in length in one muscle in the chain will cause a chain reaction, pulling on the following link and so on to the end of the chain. The end result is a shortening of the entire MC.
- Any attempt to resist this shortening provokes, instantaneously, latero-flexions (bending sideways) and rotations of the spine and limbs.
Mézières termed these responses ‘compensations’. As we have explained previously, muscles in a MC are capable of three actions: bending backward, bending sideways, rotating and/or a combination of some or all of these actions. When one of these actions is blocked, the muscles tend to escape the stretch through another action in another plane. For example, if you straighten a joint, the muscles acting on that joint can (and invariably do) escape the stretch by bending it sideways or rotating it to compensate.
- The shortening of the MCs provokes a rotation of the limbs which is always inwards.
This is because the MCs acting on the limbs have powerful inward rotator muscles which overpower the external rotator ones.
- Any stretch, untwisting, pain, concentration, effort, makes us hold our breath and fix the rib cage into a position of inspiration.
The diaphragm, the muscle which drives our breathing, is part of a MC. It is attached to the front of the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. When the diaphragm is shortened (as when we hold our breath), it pulls the lumbar spine forward and, in doing so, increases the arch of the lower back. Breathing out is, therefore, a crucial weapon in the Mézières armoury. The deepening and spreading of the normal concavities of our spine is the first step in the distortion of the body. Stiff, painful and degenerative joints such as frozen shoulder, herniated vertebral discs, knee problems and hip problems (to name but a few) are caused by the shortening of the MCs. Consequently, the rational and efficacious treatment of these painful problems is to leave the joints themselves well alone and concentrate instead on giving the MCs back their normal elasticity.