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The Concise Book of Muscles

by Chris Jarmey

listed in bodywork

Anatomy books. I love them! Especially the ones known as 'Anatomy for the Artist'. Although the Concise Book of Muscles by Chris Jarmey is not designed for the artist but more for the student of anatomy, physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, massage, nursing and any kind of bodywork you can think of, it is nevertheless beautifully illustrated thanks to the skilful hand and artistic eye of Amanda Williams, a graduate from Middlesex University with a first-class honours in graphic Design (Scientific Illustration). The author qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist in 1979 and has already written several best-selling books on bodywork methods. He also teaches body mechanics, bodywork therapy and anatomy so he knows what he is talking about.

After a chapter entitled 'The Moving Body' which explains, with plenty of clear drawings, the usual anatomical directions, regional areas, planes of the body and so forth, this concise book introduces each of the main skeletal muscles. The information given is clear, user-friendly and easy to understand (technical terms, which can be a turn-off for the budding anatomist are explained in parenthesis throughout the text). Two pages are devoted to each muscle (except for the less important ones), the left page for drawings of the muscle, and the right for text about its origin, insertion, action, innervation, basic functional movement and the sports that heavily utilize it. I like the fact that the meaning of the Latin or Greek names are explained which helps to memorize them. In addition, the left page shows in pictorial form some fundamental exercises to strengthen the muscle and others to stretch it. Most of the exercises to strengthen the muscles require weights or machines and should be practised with caution while some, in my opinion, should be avoided if the reader doesn't want to have to buy a concise book on muscle injuries as a consequence!

There is no need to buy a pack of crayons as for the once popular anatomy colouring books - this one has already been generously coloured for you. Each muscle is colour-coded. Classically, the insertions are in blue, the origins in red and the external border of the page has a coloured band to indicate the part of the body to which the muscle belongs, for example green for the muscles of the shoulder and upper arm. As this book is destined to be well thumbed, the publisher should have given thought to a special lay-flat binding.

The Erector spinae, also known as sacrospinalis, a complex muscle group, is illustrated in a very clear method. The same cannot be said about the Longus colli, Longus capitis and Rectus capitis anterior as they are not represented at all. I think this is a shame as, together, they are often implicated in a number of postural problems in the cervical and upper thoracic area.

One problem which always arises with the kind of anatomy books that show muscles in isolation, is that the student cannot see the wood for the trees or rather the whole musculature for the muscle, and in my field of work, the muscle chains for the muscle.

On the first page of the book, entitled 'About this book', there is the following comment: "Note that when the insertion remains relatively fixed and the origin moves, the muscle is said to be causing a 'reverse origin to insertion' movement. This occurs often." I consider this an important exactitude which should always be kept in mind while treating patients. The so-called fixed point of a muscle can be at the origin or the insertion. The relative position of the bony parts will also determine the actions of the muscles which attach to them. For example, when the head is in a correct position, the Sternocleidomastoideus contracting on both sides together will flex the neck and bring the head forward. However, when the head is tilted back the same contraction will postero-flex the head and increase the cervical lordosis.

An error has slipped into a note about spinal segment in the bottom right side of page 6 of this useful book. But you don't have to wait for the next edition of the book to get the traditional ERRATUM. Here it is, cut it out and glue it in your copy:ERRATUMPage 6, last sentence of the note (*), for "and back of the trunk", read "and front of the trunk".

This book can be ordered from the Positive Health bookstore. Please click the Bookshop image at the top of the column to your right, then click on Bodywork.

Joel Carbonnel
Lotus Publishing, Chichester, UK and North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California
ISBN 0-9543188-1-1

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