Sensational Leg Anatomy from Hip Bones to Toes:
Learn different techniques for muscle activation including techniques for isolated muscle activation as well as techniques for integrated muscle activation.
No special or fancy poses, just simple exercises to learn to feel and control your leg muscles.
Muscle control not only helps you to control your body (moving it, using it). It also helps you to feel your body.
Proprioception (the ability to feel where your body is in space) needs muscle activation to work.
Sensational Leg Anatomy helps you learn to control the muscles of your legs so that you get a better feel for your leg muscles, hip joints, knee joints, feet and ankles.
If recovering from injury or pain (knees or hips or even feet), these exercises can provide a basis for fault finding and fixing faulty movement patterns since they include both a sensing component and a control component.
If you are flexible but lack control (i.e. you can "flop" into the splits but you can't lower yourself into them with control) these exercises may be helpful for turning on your muscles so that you improve your control.
If you want to work towards flexibility, or better stability, these exercises can be the foundation for approaching flexibility training intelligently. The better you are at controlling your muscles, the easier it is to get more flexible. (Since control means in part, being able to turn your muscles off as well as on.)
Sensational Leg Anatomy is a series of 5 minute or less videos each describing an exercise or series of exercises to help you develop a feel for individual groups of muscles in your legs.
Exercise progressions are make it easy for you to learn to feel your anatomy by starting with bigger muscles, and from there learning to feel your joints, and bones with special attention payed to learning to feel your hip bones.
Not only will you learn to feel your muscles, you'll also learn to self adjust, for optimum muscle activation.
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Sensational leg anatomy starts with learning to feel and control the bigger leg muscles like the vastus muscles at the front of the thighs.
Because they are bigger (bulkier), the sensations from these muscles tend to be easier to feel. The focus here is on feeling muscles activate (and being able to turn them on in the first place.)
Once you can distinguish "muscle activation sensation" it is then easier to feel the sensations generated by smaller, thinner muscles such as the hip flexors.
In the first part you'll learn to feel the muscles that work on the front and back of the thighs and hips:
If you grab the front of your thigh, most of the muscle bulk you can feel is made up of the vastus muscles: vastus lateralis on the outside, vastus medialis on the inside and vastus intermedius at the front.
If you feel the point at the front of the hip bone (the ASICs), there are three muscles that attach there (or near there) that can be used to flex the hip:
Sartorius, Rectus femoris, tensor fascia latae.
All three of these hip flexor muscles have attachments to the lower leg.
Two of these muscles not only help bend the hip forwards, then can also be used to rotate the shin.
If you grab your butt, most of what you are grabbing is the muscle called the gluteus maximus. Its deeper portion attaches to the femur while the more superficial portion attaches to the lower leg via the IT band. It's a hip extensor.
If you grab the back of your leg beneath the buttocks, the bulk of muscle there that you are holding on to is made up of the hamstring muscles. These attach to the sitting bones or ischial tuberosities, the bones that you can feel when you sit down on hard chair or floor.
These points of the hip bone are located diagonally opposite from the ASICs. You could think of both pairs of points as leverage points for controlling the hip bone.
In addition to learning to activate the front, back of the thighs and hips , the first part of the course also teaches you to feel and control your inner and outer thighs, legs and hips.
Feeling the outer thighs, muscles activated can include:
Feeling and Controlling the inner thighs, muscles activated can include:
Note that there is some overlap here with muscles at the front and back of the thighs.
If you grab the side of your thigh, towards the front, the muscle you are more than likely grabbing is the vastus lateralis muscle.
Running just above this down the length of the thigh from the crest of the pelvis to the tibia, just below the knee, is a strip of connective tissue called the IT band.
At the top of the IT band, just below the crest of the hip bone, the tensor fascia latae muscles attaches to its forward edge while the surface fibers of the gluteus maximus attach to its rear edge.
Both of these muscles can be used, via the IT band, to rotate the shin or stabilize it against rotation. In addition, the tensor fascia latae can also be used as a hip flexor.
If you grab the side of the thigh towards the rear edge, you may be able to feel the outer hamstrings muscles (the biceps femoris) which attach to the fibula, the smaller of the two lower leg bones.
If you touch the side of your hip, below the ridge of the hip crest but above the "bump" of the thigh bone (the greater trochanter), that space is filled by the gluteus minimus muscle towards the front, and the gluteus medius along the middle.
If you grab the inner thigh towards the bottom (near the knee) there's a tear drop shaped muscle towards the front of the inner thigh. That's the vastus medialis muscle.
Running over it from the the asic to the tibia is the sartorius and from the pubic bone to the tibia is the gracilis. These are two of the muscles that combine to form the pes anserinus or goose foot.
Towards the back of the thigh you may be able to discern the inner hamstrings the semimembranosus and the semitendinosus. The latter of these two muscle also connects to the pes anserinus or goose foot.
If you grab the inner thigh closer to the pelvis there's a triangular mass of muscle more towards the rear of the thigh. That's made up of the adductor muscles (adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus). Adductor brevis is shorter, adductor longus is longer. Both of these attach near the front of the hip bone, close to the pubic bone.
Adductor magnus is the largest of the adductors. While not obvious from pictures it's like a twisted square or rectangle in shape. One end attaches to the bottom ridge of the pelvis. The opposite end attaches to most of the back edge of the femur.
The fibers that attach near the front of the pelvis attach to the upper end of the femur. Those that attach closer to the rear of the pelvis attach lower down on the femur.
The part that attaches to the sitting bone reaches down the leg to attach to the femur just above the knee.
One idea that is covered a lot in sensational leg anatomy is the idea of creating stability. Stability is basically "resistance to change". Another important idea that is related is the idea of "Anchoring Muscles". You anchor one end of a muscle so that it can activate effectively. In that regard one way that you can anchor the biceps femoris short head muscle is to activate either the adductor longus or the middle fibers of the adductor magnus.
A failure of the shorthead biceps femoris to activate can result in an "empty" feeling at the outside of the back fo the knee. An intelligent way to activate the biceps femoris short head to negate that empty feeling is to first activate the adductor longus (or the middle fibers of the adductor magnus), then try to activate biceps femoris.
The initial focus in sensational leg anatomy is on using various techniques and tricks to activate these thigh, hip and knee muscles and to feel them activating, generally by working against some form of resistance.
Working in clearly defined directions you can get a feel for the forces that these muscles create where working against external resistance.
Once you have a feel for these muscles, the focus is on then learning to activate them without relying on external resistance. Instead you learn to use them against internal resistance, (opposing muscles).
Since you are learning now to use muscle against muscle, you're also learning to create joint stability.
Learning the four corners (or quadrants) of the thighs, you can begin to get a sense of how muscle activation can correspond to the direction of intended movement. That's because the initial techniques for learning muscle control use directed movement (or directed attempts at creating movement).
So for example, to move the foot forwards, muscles at the front of the thigh, hip and foot will activate. To move the foot rearwards, muscles at the back of the thigh, hip and foot will activate.
Note that interactions do get a lot more complex than this, but when learning anything complex it helps to learn simple correspondances (or models) first.
The trick is not becoming attached to these models.
Where the first part of this course focuses on feeling and controlling groups of muscles, the second part focuses more on joint activation. You are still activating muscles, but instead of focusing on the muscles, here you focus on the joints, the hips, the knees, the joints of the ankle and foot.
Where muscle activation tends to focus on the sensation that muscles generate within themselves, joint activation tends to focus on the sensation created in connective tissue, tendons and ligaments. It's a slightly different sensation, but no less (and no more) important.
Both types of sensation help you to become more aware of your body.
One interesting benefit of learning these two means of control is that they are different enough that you can use one to rest from the other. Another benefit is that using both techniques can give you a more complete picture of how the parts of your body work together.
Learning both techniques also gives you more options for playing with your body. You can play with different combinations of muscle activation and joint control.
Note that muscle activation can be used to refine joint control. In turn, joint activation can be used to refine muscle control.
Focusing on the joints you are focused on the things that move. Focusing on muscles you are focused on the things that drive movement.
In part 1 the focus is more on individual muscles. Focusing on joint control it's harder to distinguish what muscles are activating. As a result you could think of it as more of an integrating action.
The third part of Sensational Leg Anatomy focus on the shin, foot and knee. This section also touches on the hip bones.
One thing that alot of people don't realize is that the shin can rotate relative to the thigh when the knee is bent. So rather than just being a joint that can bend and straighten the knee is also a joint that allows some slight rotation.
(The more extreme practice of shin rotation leads to poses like lotus and virasana. But even less extreme movement is important because it can allow us to squat and sit easily with the legs in various positions.)
You'll learn to rotate the shin using lower leg muscles that connect to the foot (tibialis anterior, peroneus longus and brevis, tibialis posterior etc). These same muscles can be used to flatten or accentuate the inner arch of the foot.
You'll also learn to rotate the shin relative to the thigh using the long hip muscles (tensor fascia latae, gluteus maximus, sartorius, gracilis, semitendinosus).
For want of a better name the "long" hip muscles are the muscles that attach between the pelvis and the lower leg (tibia and fibula).
These muscles are noteworthy because all of them attach to prominent leverage points of the hip bone (ASICs, Pubic bone, PSIS, Sitting bones) and from there to the lower leg bones. Most of them pass over some larger muscle also, whether the vastus muscles of the quadriceps or as in the case of the superfical glute maximus fibers, over the deeper fibers of the gluteus maximus.
When the shin is stabilized via the foot muscles, these long hip muscles can be used to help control (and stabilize) the hip bone (one half of the pelvis.)
These muscles can be used to rotate the shin relative to the thigh and pelvis when the knee is bent. And they can be used to rotate the thigh and shin together when the knee is straight.
You'll also learn how to use the vastus muscles to take out the slack from the these muscles for better stability and better control. And to that end you'll learn to differentiate between the three vastus muscles.
And that's actually an important idea that you can learn from this course, (and even from this intro). Tension in one muscle can affect tension (beneficially) in other muscles. If a muscle is too slack to effectively activate, you can activate other muscles (that are in contact with the muscle in question) to take out the slack.
This section also looks at heel control and toe control as well as general foot control.
Heel control can be important because without it its very easy for the inner arch to collapse, particularly during impact that can be experienced while running (whether you land on your heel, midfoot or forefoot).
The fourth part focuses on the hip bone, learning to feel it and control it.
One way to control the hip bone is via the long hip muscles learned in part 3. With a stable shin and foot you can use these muscles to easily control the hip bone.
Another important set of muscles for controlling the hip bones (relative to the femur) is the deeper hip muscles including the obturators, gemellus superior and inferior, gluteus minimus and medius.
An important idea with all joints is that of maintaining space between the bones a joint connects. This is achieved by balancing tension in the joint capsule. This in turn causes joint fluid to be pressured, maintaining space between the bones and at the same time keeping the joint lubricated.
Part of the idea of learning to use the deep hip muscles, particularly the obturators, is to actually lift the pelvis off of the thigh bone.
Note that balance is required because excessive obturator tension can cause bone on bone contact in the opposite direction.
The fourth part also includes a short section on feeling your spine with the sacrum being included as part of the spine. This is so that you can practice stabilizing the hip bone relative to the leg then stabilize the spine (including the sacrum) relative to the hip bone.
This technique may help to avoid excessive stress on the SI Joint.
Overall, the goal of this course is not to encourage you to isolate your muscles all of the time, but to be able to feel and control your body without having to think about how to do it.
It's basically like learning to drive.
And so one of the final videos teaches you about intent. You actually practice intent throughout most of the exercises, this last is just a way of wrapping it up.
The course is divided into short videos of a maximum of 5 minutes each. There are 50 videos in all.
Each focuses on simple exercises that you should be able to learn and then practice without requiring the video.
The instructions are simple, easy to remember so that you can focus on improving your ability to feel and control your body while doing the exercises.
Most of the exercises are done while standing, with a few (mainly the shin rotation work) done while sitting in a chair. That means that you don't have to be flexible to do the exercises in this course.
Because each video is only five minutes, you can conceivably watch a video a day, ideally in the morning or last thing at night. You can then practice the exercises throughout the day.
The videos are also short enough that you can easily make notes of the exercises contained in each video if you wish. The vary act of writing them down (or figuring out how to write them down) can act as an extra memory aid.
Because there are so many exciting and different courses out there, this course is designed so that it is easy to get on with doing it. Work is required, but rather than having to read through lots of pages (or watch hours of video), with sensational anatomy, you can watch short videos with simple exercises that you can get on with practicing now. You do have to do a lot of work but its the type of work that can be enjoyable because you are learning to better feel and control your own body.
You may find that because the focus is on feeling and controlling, you think less, you worry less.
Note that rather than focusing on exact alignment, you'll learn to self adjust, basically finding your alignment internally. And that's one of the main advantages of learning to feel and control your body. Instead of relying on external alignment cues, you can now learn to adjust your body. With enough practice you'll know when you are in the right position just by being able to feel it.
For all exercises, the focus in this course is on slow and smooth activation and slow and smooth relaxation.
Initially you can do sudden activation and relaxation, just to get a basic feel for your muscles. But once you have that the idea is to learn to activate and relax them smoothly and slowly. The exercises can then become like deep breathing exercises and have a similiar affect. Even though you aren't focusing on your respiratory muscles you may find that your breathing naturally becomes slow and smooth.
Option 1 is sensational leg anatomy. You'll learn to feel and control the muscles of your leg as described above.
Option 2 includes the above option 1 plus Anatomy and Muscle Control for Hamstring Flexibility. The Hamstring Flexibility video shows you how to use the techniques learned in sensational leg anatomy to help improve hamstring flexibility in a standing forward bend.
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If you aren't satisfied, let me know within 30 days and I'll give you your money back.
Note that all videos are streamable or downloadable.
Downloads have 1280x720 resolution and are in mp4 format.
This course has been designed and is presented by me, Neil Keleher. Nearly all of it is based on techniques that I've taught in my classes. It's also based on what my own experiences dealing with pain, injury, lack of flexibility. Prior to becoming a yoga teacher I worked as an test engineer. And before that I fixed guns while I was in the army. In all cases what I've found is that the better you understand something the easier it is to fix, and the easier it is to improve.
Additionally, all anatomy images shown above were drawn by me.
Sensational yoga anatomy (in this case, sensational leg anatomy) is designed to help you experience the anatomy of you own body so that you better understand it. It's not going to turn you into a yoga master or make you instantly flexible. But it will give you some of the tools you need to work towards those things.
Ask yourself why smartphones are smart compared to normal phones. They have a huge touch screen, a sensor, instead of buttons. And they can respond to touch in different ways. That's what makes them smart.
You don't need to upgrade your body to become body smart, you just need to learn how to use the sensors and actuators that are already built into it.
Another important idea of this course is to make you less reliant on guru's or fitness experts, to give you the necessary tools so that you can determine for yourself what is right or wrong for your body.