Muscle Chains


Spiral Stabilization is based on the anatomy and function of muscle chains. They are divided into two groups – vertical and spiral muscle chains.

Spiral chains – their function is to stabilise the body during movement (walking, running, sport). They create spinal traction in movement and therefore regenerate the spine and body. Muscles within these chains are often weak and need strengthening.

Vertical chains – their function is to stabilise the body at rest. Therefore, when they are used in movement, they cause compression within the body and spine degeneration. We call this vertical stabilisation of movement. Muscles within these chains are often tight and need stretching.

Peak performance in sport (including youth sport) puts the body under a lot of stress and can cause overuse of the vertical muscle chains. Vertical stabilisation of movement results in sport injuries, back pain, joint pain etc. and has a negative effect on an athlete’s performance.

Spiral Stabilization provides functional training and helps with rehabilitation, sufficient compensation and regeneration. Spiral exercises eliminate muscle imbalances within the muscle chains.

During exercise we focus on the fast activation (strengthening of spiral chains) of the stabilising muscles, which will improve a sense of balance and protect the spine and joints from overloading. Active stretching (stretching of vertical chains) ensures a greater range of movement and the release of muscle tension. An exercise programme will improve an athlete’s physical fitness and performance, enabling them to prevent injuries and asymmetric sport overload and to maintain good health.

One of the principles of Spiral Stabilization is reciprocal inhibition (active inhibition). Cooperation between the agonist and antagonist is not only in individual muscles, but also between the muscle chains. The activity of the agonist inhibits the tension of the antagonist. Using this principle is the most effective way to relax muscle tension and achieve greater range of motion. This can’t be achieved with conventional stretching. For example:

  • Contraction of the muscles between the shoulder blades allows for more effective stretch of pectoralis.
  • Contraction of the abdominal wall allows for relaxation of erector spine (tension in the lower back).
  • Contraction of the glutes allows for more effective stretch of hip flexors.
  • Contraction of the spiral chain allows for relaxation of the vertical chain.

An EMG (electromyography) test demonstrates function of the muscle chains and reciprocal inhibition during Spiral Stabilization exercises – contraction within the spiral chain (lower trapezius, external and internal obliques, glutes, tibialis anterior) and relaxation within the vertical chain (upper trapezius, erector spine).

Anatomy of the muscle chains – Dr Richard Smisek has described 50 muscle chains.


Spiral muscle chains

Vertical muscle chains

Essential balance between the muscle chains – anterior and posterior body.

Strengthening and stabilisation – latissimus dorsi chain, trapezius chain.

Strengthening and stabilisation – pectoralis major chain.

Strengthening and stabilisation – serratus anterior chain.

Strengthening and stabilisation – latissimus dorsi, trapezius, pectoralis major, serratus anterior chains.

Stretching – subclavius, pectoralis minor, pectoralis major, iliopsoas, rectus femoris, tensor fasciae latae, gluteus medius, pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis.

Stretching – erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, multifidus, biceps femoris, semitendinosus.

Read more about Spiral Stabilization here


Thank you to the Spiral Stabilization rehabilitation clinic in Prague ( for the provision of all of the images on this page.

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