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The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement: for the study of dance, pilates, sport and yoga

by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones

listed in bodywork

[Image: The Anatomy of Exercise & Movement: for the study of dance, pilates, sport and yoga]

This book has been written with the aim of providing a resource for those interested in muscles and movement so that they may better understand how the body functions during exercise. The author is a Professor of Dance and Kinesiology, Yoga instructor and Pilates teacher of some thirty years experience, who currently teaches movement workshops across the United States. It was the feedback from her students that motivated her to write a text that was easy to understand and contained sufficient detail without being a hardcore textbook. In this respect I believe the author has  achieved her aim.

The book is divided into ten chapters that are colour-coded for easy reference. The first two chapters provide background information covering basic anatomical and physiological principles. The first chapter is a short section that explains standard anatomical referencing of the body, describing planes and movements of the body and defining terms used by professionals. The second chapter provides a simple but detailed account of muscle structure and motor neuron innervation. It describes how muscles contract physiologically, the reflex control of muscle contraction, and the mechanics of movement, including examples of different lever types in the body. There is also a brief description of the different synovial joint types.

The ensuing chapters are divided into body areas defined mainly by joint, and they follow a structured format. Joint or skeletal anatomy is described, followed by the muscles that act on that area. Examples of how to strengthen or stretch these muscles are given via exercises and movements derived from Pilates, yoga, dance and weight-training. An eclectic selection of exercises are drawn from the author's professional experience to indicate how specific joints may be mobilized, and the associated muscles stretched or strengthened. Each exercise is accompanied by a basic description of the technique, and an indication of the exercise difficulty (I -beginning, II - intermediate and III- advanced) is provided. Important points of interest or safety tips are highlighted.

At the end of each chapter, a short section on 'myths' relating to the area is included, and then a summary of the movements and the muscles involved. The sections on 'myths' are used to explain common misunderstandings and misconceptions about exercise, body function, and injury cause or prevention. These sections further reinforce the author's personal philosophy of care and maintenance of body health, providing examples of why problems may develop and how these should be addressed.

Chapter 3 deals with the structure of the spine and the muscles of the cervical and thoracic areas in particular. Illustrated exercise examples focus predominantly on spinal mobility drawing from yoga as a source. The fourth chapter looks at the 'core', namely the muscles of the lumbar spine and pelvis, and includes the iliopsoas muscle group. The Psoas muscle is currently attracting wider interest as a primary postural muscle, so this section and associated exercise ideas from the author will without doubt be of interest to readers.  It is refreshing to see in the "Myths" section a note on the need to lengthen through the abdominals when performing a "navel to spine" manoeuvre, as this is often a poorly understood and performed movement.

Chapter 5 describes the shoulder region, focusing on the scapulothoracic and glenohumeral joints, but also includes the sternoclavicular, acromioclavicular and coracoclavicular joints, with exercises for the rotator cuff and shoulder girdle musculature.  This section focuses mainly upon the muscles which strengthen and stretch the shoulder and rotator cuff, but only briefly discusses the role of scapular stability for safe, effective shoulder function. Chapters 6 and 7 focus on the joints and muscles from elbow to hand, and Chapter 7 includes information on carpal and ulnar tunnel syndromes.

Chapter 8 discusses the iliofemoral (or hip) joint and includes exercises for the deep hip rotator muscles. The author usefully notes that many Pilates positions involve hip flexion, which she feels should not be a problem if the abdominal action is balanced; however she acknowledges that this tendency should be offset and suggests exercises in prone to address this. Chapter 9 looks at the knee joint and also provides general information on knee ligament injuries and meniscal tears, although it should be emphasized that the purpose of this book is not rehabilitation; the exercise suggestions should only function to increase reader insight into some aspects of the rehabilitation process.

The last chapter finishes with the ankle and foot, including a brief mention of problems and injuries that may affect this area. There is a short appendix on the jaw and throat and a bibliography for further reading at the end of the book.

Overall, the book is attractive and easy read, with a plethora of interesting illustrations addressing skeletal anatomy, muscle position and attachment, and additional structures of relevance such as ligaments, bursae and menisci. These are sufficiently detailed and clear enough to enable easy understanding of joint function and muscle action during body movements and the exercises described. The practical application of anatomy in familiar exercise positions should greatly enhance reader understanding, and the explanations and communication style clearly derive from the author's teaching experience and enthusiasm for her subject.

In summary, this book may not have sufficient depth of referencing and detail regarding anatomy for the professional therapist (which is acknowledged by the author), and it does not aim to provide a comprehensive structured progression of exercises for those looking to design a training programme or rehabilitate an injury. However, for the target audience of fitness enthusiasts and teachers of movement and exercise, this book will help to inform and consolidate knowledge relating to muscle activity and function in a broad range of exercises. The information is presented in a logical and organized structure, clearly laid out and written in a light-hearted style that is easy to read and understand. The author's enthusiasm to share her knowledge for the promotion of health is clear to see and I am sure this book will prove a useful resource for students of movement and those who wish to learn more about improving body health.

Kent Fyrth
Lotus Publishing
978 1 905367 17 7

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