Hooves on the Ground: Muscles, Testing and Function with Posture and Pain, (Kendall, McCreary, Provance)

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book, not because I’ve not been reading but because I’ve not been feeling social and like sharing anything, so it’s possibly a very good sign that the first book that I go to review is one which I had dragged out to find a diagram for a bodybuilding pal.


It has, as the title suggests, two major components – Posture and Pain, and Testing and Function – and both of these sections are great. They can be read individually, but being a layman I ended up cross-referencing from one to the other a lot – Reading and observing posture, then finding the diagrams for the individual muscle groups mentioned, and testing them for length/shortening and weakness/strength. One of my favourite things about this book is that for a lot of things it does use cartoons, not photographs, so it’s a lot easier to see the movement and shape of muscles when the one that you’re observing is highlighted in red and the others are all just outlines, as compared to if they’re photographs or more exact diagrams.

The posture section shows, as well as the “problematic” postures, the  explanation for how each of them affects the muscles underneath, and which muscles thus need to be strengthened and which need to be counterbalanced in order to correct the posture (Not just for aesthetic reasons either, it explains how the various postures can translate into muscle weaknesses and pain later in life). It’s all extremely well laid out and presented in accessible, readable language, with photographs and diagrams, and technical terms explained in a glossary.

A long, extremely useful section of the book takes each of the muscles in turn, describes its placement and function, and also how to both flex and relax the muscle as far as possible – This is good for a handful of things; Finding relaxed or comfortable configurations for individual sore muscles, devising exercises to specifically strengthen individual muscle groups, and working out which muscles are compensating and “taking over” for other muscles during a movement, which is extremely common in hypermobile people; Archetypally, using ones latissimus dorsi to “stabilise” arm movements that should mostly be affecting the biceps, resulting in soreness and inefficient movements, but the same applies to basically any movement where a larger muscle can compensate for weakness in a smaller group. Near the end of the section is a series of diagrams of the superficial nerves, which is also extremely useful for trying to localise hard-to-describe pains.

Throughout the book there are worksheets and explanations of how to record a patient’s performance and presentation, which are extremely useful when you’re looking at yourself and trying to objectively assess how bad something is, or how good it is.

As with most textbooks, this is a book to drop in and out of, focusing on the system or the movement that you need. I’ve been using it mostly to work out which muscle groups I need to address more in my workouts, and to make sure that the things that I do to “help” when I’m relaxing aren’t actually making things worse in the long run.

I’d definitely reccommend this book, possibly as the first book to get when assessing your own body’s condition especially in relation to the pain that comes with hypermobility. As much as doctors are often too quick to turn to “deconditioning” as an answer to everything, there is absolutely power in knowing where all your muscles are and how to use them correctly, and thus to know which ones are underperforming and need work.

Exact details of my copy: Muscles Testing and Function, Florence Peterson Kendall, Elizabeth Kendall McCreary, Patricia Geise Provance, with Posture and Pain first and second editions by Henry Otis Kendall, 4th Edition, 1993. Second hand, £3.45.

Disclaimer: Nothing said above is intended as a substitute for qualified medical advice, or to supersede the advice of a qualified physician. This is my personal review of my experiences with a book, as a layman. I am not a medical professional, of any kind, and any health issues should be discussed with a doctor or other appropriate professional.

Hooves on the ground: Colour Atlas of Anatomy, a photographic study of the human body. Rohen/Yokochi

This is exactly what it sounds like; A compilation of colour photographs, CT-scans and MRIs of the human body, laid out by body part (Head, neck, trunk, thoracic organs, abdominal organs, urogenital and reproductive, upper limb, lower limb).

Now, most of the book is going to be no direct use; the sections on the internal organs, for example. Honestly, most of the book is probably not very much practical use at all, in the scope of dealing with hypermobility. It’s meant as a companion to a dissection lab, allowing students to view the structures that they’ll find in their cadaver in a flat, easy-to-understand form.

My use for it is in placing exactly which structures have gone wrong – With a combination of following the sore or tense bits of muscle to find the attachment points, then viewing the cadavers to see exactly how it interacts with the things around it, then applying targetted manipulation to it to make it hurt less, whether that be a movement from Maitland, an exercise to isolate that muscle group, vibration, TENS (one pad on each end of the muscle, much more useful than making every random muscle around it go wrong) or anything else.

It’s also useful for working out if something is luxated or not, and if it is luxated, how to put it back. This might only work if you’re on the undernourished side – I can feel inside various processes with a slight pressure, which wouldn’t work if there was more muscle or fat in the way – but I’ve found it to be a really useful guide to exploring the glenoid process, and to working out the non-intuitive bits of pain relief (Example – sometimes the best way to deal with a pain over the clavicle is to massage down under the scapula. Or on the ribs.) and the best positions to get into to reduce the strain on individual bits of tissue.

Incidentally, I find it useful to use this book along with a Mr Thrifty, A 1/4th scale desk skeleton, fully articulated, and onto which I’ve painted some of the major points of attachment for the muscles of the limbs, since it helps with the spacial reasoning (To whit, I can move the limbs around, and see what stretches the muscles, what puts the least pressure on the joints, etc).

The pages themselves are well laid-out, most having a large photograph of the body part being examined, partially dissected and with the major structures labelled, and the dissection itself is described – What’s been removed, which angle it’s being viewed from, and (in the case of arms) if it’s pronated or supinated. Next to these there’s usually a small diagram showing interesting points of the structures involved, or demonstrating a movement, and they’re an even more stripped-down way of looking at the same structures.

I find that, above all else, it’s a very comforting book. Seeing the sheer weight of the bones of the knee, and the sharp hook of the olecranon, it makes my limbs feel a lot more solid. And, as the introduction says, we are reminded of “How precisely, beautifully and  admirably the human body is constructed”.

Exact details of my copy: Colour Atlas of Anatomy, a photographic study of the human body. Johannes W. Rohen, Chihiro Yokochi, with the collaboration of Lynn J Romrell, 3rd Edition, 1993. Second hand, £4.

Disclaimer: Nothing said above is intended as a substitute for qualified medical advice, or to supersede the advice of a qualified physician. This is my personal review of my experiences with a book, as a layman. I am not a medical professional, of any kind, and any health issues should be discussed with a doctor or other appropriate professional.