You perhaps learned along that way that a tendon attaches muscle to bone. And that a ligament will attach one bone to another. And if you are anything like me, the next question you asked was: Well, what attaches the muscle to the tendon? Or the tendon to the bone. Or the ligament to the bone. Because, of course, if the first bit of information was deemed important or necessary to know, then all that other stuff should also be important, ya?
This is why I hardly have any friends.
Allow me to quickly explain it using a few hastily drawn pictures. (The anatomy, I mean. Not why I don’t have many friends.) Your understanding of anatomy might be based on this:
And while this is not incorrect, it is also not as accurate as the next picture I have drawn below. This way of attachment would make for a very injury-prone body (think parts falling off right at the interface) if tissues abruptly changed from one to another. Imagine how much stronger your towel rack would be if it wasn’t glued to the wall but actually wound some of its aluminum bits into the wood particles of the wall? Which I guess is what a screw does. Nice.
So, when is a thing a thing?
And you didn’t even know you were reading a philosophy blog, did you?
If we don’t go by the defining parameters of the tissue-names (muscle, tendon, bone) but instead go by the uniqueness of the tissue itself, the picture actually looks more like this:
Meaning that there are sevenish unique tissues to consider in the process of muscle blending into a tendon and then tendon blending into bone. And who’s to say that there aren’t more unique tissues in between each of these seven?
Of course there are. All we have to do is add the variables of unique fiber angles or count slightly different cell types and BAM, you’ll find new layers that differ. What you observe is entirely based on the established parameters and perspective from which you are observing it.
Why am I writing this today? I bring this topic up for a couple reasons.
First, I thought you might be interested in how muscle attaches to bone. The other reason seems to be that I like to make grand commentary on the state of things — in this case anatomical science and those who use it.
If your current level of understanding the body is here
and you make logical and educated progressions from this viewpoint, you can still come to erroneous conclusions when you apply your thoughts to this body here:
This seems to be the current trend in all things body-science — the application of big ideas based on over-simplified models that don’t account for biological mechanism. College-level textbooks are 30 years behind the most up-to-date information. Definitions are vague, even in current and published literature. Published literature? Who’s reading (and understanding) that?
Like many things, in trying to make information accessible to everyone (as it should be), we’ve effectively made the bulk of it incorrect through oversimplification instead of teaching the necessary mathematical skills necessary for evaluating function. From the big stuff (moving around the planet) to the little stuff (moving stuff in and out of the cells) both a full engineering and a full biological perspective are necessary to understand the mechanism of human function. Why? Because the picture gets a lot more narrow without these sets of information, which means conclusions made become quickly erroneous through lack of detail.
I posted this on our Facebook page this morning:
Update your idea of THE CORE: The linea alba is not “where the stomach muscles connect” but rather where the fibers of the abdominal muscles’ aponeurosis (think flat, bilayered tendons) cross over each other and then resume on the other side of the abdomen. Interestingly enough, the aponeurosis of the 3 waist muscles all come in obliquely (at angles) — even the transversalis, which means the rectus abdominals (the abdominal muscles running top to bottom) are really under the pull of three oblique angles at the linea alba.
(Who wants a picture??)
The linea alba is a huge topic since diastasis recti (unnatural distance between the rectus abdominus and the linea alba) has become a huge issue for women especially, but men and babies as well.
So, what is the linea alba, exactly?
Is it a line that runs down the center of the abdomen? Well, sure! I guess it could be, if you’re evaluating it on how it looks. Is that all it is? Nope. Is this “the place” where abdominals all come to connect? I guess that depends on if you think that a red square on this tablecloth…
is where two chunks of red thread “connect”; or where to chunks of red threads create the appearance of a red square based on how they interact. You’d likely evaluate the “red square” differently depending on if you were looking at the cloth or the threads and based on your internal definitions of connect and interact.
Damn. I’m getting all Aristotle with my bad self.
Moving on, the linea alba is an area of intersection between the aponeurosis of the obliques and the transversalis muscles. Or said in a different way, the linea alba is what we call an area made up of a bunch of other tissues that we already call something else. So, did you damage the linea alba or did you damage one (or all) of the aponeurosis? Note: Studying semantics is extremely helpful when it comes to the physical sciences. Who’d a thought?
Although necessary for study, keep in mind that process of cataloging and naming our parts shapes our understanding of the body — and not in a more accurate way. Every “definition” or “word” we use for a body part or a tissue type (known as a classification system) is based on the value system of that person, or group of people. This is why our health/movement science is busy getting a lot less science-y. Modern anatomical science is riddled with a cultural influence that is affecting our ability to see the body’s mechanism. But I’ll save that for a different post. Until then, I’ll leave you with this: There is no spoon.