The Superficial Front Line (SFL) connects the anterior surface of the body, extending from the top of the feet to the posterior skull. The overall function of the Superficial Front Line is to move the skull and the toes toward each other like in forward folds, when it is placed on a concentric load. Its responsibility is to initiate gross, forward motor movements. During backbending Yoga Asanas/stretched, it is placed on an eccentric load.
Bony Landmarks of Superficial Front Line
- Mastoid Process
- Sternal Manubrium
- Anterior Inferior iliac Spine (AIIS)
- Greater Trochanter of Femur
- Tibial Tuberosity
- Lateral Condyle of Tibia
- Anterior surface of Fibula
- Dorsal Surface of Phalanges
Muscular Landmarks of Superficial Front Line
- Rectus Abdominis
- Rectus Femoris
- Vastus Lateralis, Medialis, Intermedius
- Tibialis Anterior
- Short and Long Toe Extensors
Fascial Connections of Superficial Front Line
- Linea Alba
- Inguinal Ligament
- Patellar Tendon
- Patellar Ligament
The Superficial Front Line
One of the first things to consider when thinking of the Superficial Front Line, is the observation of emotion. Notice, the emotion of saddness and how the human body tends to “curl” forward, literally onto or into the Superficial Front Line. This can be seen as a “recoiling” into the state of “protection.”
Superficial Front Line and Protection
In the womb we are curled into the Superficial Front Line, “protected” by the liquid, skin, fascia and energy of our mother. When we experience saddness, we have a tendency to “curl back” to this space, attempting to find comfort and “protection.”
This curling forward can present as “hanging” forward and down with a closed heart and a closed chect, which pulls at the Superficial Front Line concentrically loading it. The concentric load in the front will then cause an eccentric load on the Superficial Back Line. This has an adverse effect on breathing becuase it constricts the lungs and diaphragm.
Balancing the Energy through the Superficial Front Line
Although it is intuitive to curl into the Superficial Front Line when we feel sad or heart broken, it will not be the thing that helps us balance our energy. It is important to note that we must allow our bodies to process this sadness first. But when we are ready to move past it, after times of struggle, heartache, and depression, we want to move into supported heart openers. Start by making the heart openers small and subtle, easing your body gradually from a state of saddness into joy and gratitude. When your body is ready, you will easily shift. Contrastly when we feel happy and positive, we expose our Superficial Front Line. Open arms and heart to the world. We usually sit up straighter, taller, and feel longer. We are literally backbending during these times. This action eccentricaly loads the Superficial Front Line, lifting the front of our bodies, chest, heart and thoracic areas.
Balanced Cervical Extension in Backbending Asana Poses
When neck undergoes flexion, chin toward the chest, we concentrically load the Superficial Front Line. However, if we start to jet the head forward, the front line starts to lengthen around the anterior neck, but the suboccipital area of the back line starts to shorten. As you continue to lift the head, the length on the front line and the shortening of the back line are exaggerated, shortening the Sternocleidomastoid muscle (the SCM). What happens here is that the lower cervical spine is in flexion with upper cervical hyperextension. This head alignment is common in those with “hunchback” or “kyphosis.” In yoga we see this forward flexion, upper neck hyperextension in Sphinx, Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Dhanurasana), and just about every backbend or backbending opportunity. This is why full cervical extension with the engagement of the lower trapezius in backbends is curcial when thinking of ways to bring in Yoga Therapy into the practice.
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