When Anatomylinks.com became available I was extremely eager to check it out, as Willem Kramer has been a huge influence on me. After several months of poking around on the website, here is my review!
Willem Kramer is a Dutch trained physical therapist, licensed massage therapist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. For those that don’t know, it is because of Willem that I attended massage school in the first place. A few years ago Willem was working for the Arizona Diamondbacks as their manual therapist and I happened to be hanging out in the training room watching him work magic on a few players. I was intrigued by what he was doing and started asking him questions about were I could learn the type of soft tissue therapy he does. He told me that I should just go to massage therapy school, get a massage license, and then start putting together ideas on how to treat people based on my knowledge of anatomy. I was sold! Two weeks later I signed up for massage therapy school.
Hopefully more people will hear about Willem in the future, as he is one of the smartest people I have had the opportunity to speak to and learn from. His knowledge of anatomy is top notch and the way he applies this knowledge in his manual therapy approach is very unique. You can hear more from Willem in his interview with Carson Boddicker on the Sports Rehab Expert Podcast.
First and foremost, Anatomy links is not the same as Anatomy Trains. Anatomy Trains is a great product and Tom Myers is someone I have a lot of respect for. While Anatomy Trains looks at the fascial system Anatomy Links goes beyond that.
The Anatomy Links approach honors the statement “Everything attaches to everything”. With this in mind, Willem shows us the possible connections for one single structure, which he refers to as an Anatomical Unit. While most people think in terms of muscles, bones, and joints, Willem challenges us to open up our minds and and consider everything else as well: skin, fascia (superficial and deep), tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
I am going to be totally honest when I say it is overwhelming to think like this. I told Willem after the first few weeks of using the site that I felt like a quarterback who’s playbook went from 12 plays to 50 plays overnight. Willem is honest and says that it takes time to consider all of this. At his clinic in the Netherlands, Veel Beter Fysiotherapy, clinicians are asked to sign a minimum of a 3 year contract in order to immerse themselves in the system and take the appropriate amount of time to think about all the possible links.
Willem has a number of examples on his website. Here is one example showing you what the Anatomy Links screen looks like and the information contained in each column:
Most people will watch this video and wonder where to go from here. I know I did! This is where the vast number of possibilities start to come into play. I’ll give a simplified explanation of how I use the information contained in this site by using the above example of the Fibula.
If we determine that the Fibula is something that needs to be treated (perhaps in a situation of ankle sprains, restricted ankle mobility, or problems with the proximal tibiofibular joint) we would type “Fibula” in the search box at the top and get the above page with the column on the far left giving us a detailed anatomy of the structure in question, the Anatomical Unit. In the middle column we see all the things that make up the structure we are looking at – arteries, bones, deep fascia, joint capsules, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. In the case of the fibula, there are 51 structures that are part of this anatomical unit. By selecting one of the tabs in the middle column, the column on the right will give us the structures contained in that specific category. It is in the right column where we look at the links to the Anatomical Unit (in this case the fibula). These are the structures that we want to evaluate and if necessary treat in order to get a favorable response in the Anatomical Unit that is determined to be dysfunctional. Furthermore, rather than limiting ourselves to the right hand column, we can click on each one of the structures in this column making them the new anatomical unit (left column) and creating a new list of connections that need to be evaluated.
Through this system, we may start at the ankle with the distal tibiofibular joint and end up working all the way up to the lumbar spine when our assessment is comprehensive and honors the links found to be dysfunctional. The way that we get to the lumbar spine can be through any one of the links that are affecting the anatomical unit – bones, joints, muscles, skin, fascia, nerves, blood vessels, etc.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry…it is! Like I stated earlier, grasping this system in its entirety will not happen overnight. That being said, you can easily begin to use the system and start considering various links to the Anatomical Unit you are trying to affect/treat and as you get better at putting things together and connecting the dots, more options will open up for you.
One way to simplify things is through the “settings” tab at the top right of the page, which allows you to control the structures that show up in the middle column. For example, if you want to start simple and only look at bones and muscles, you can unselect everything else, making only those two structures viewable, and allowing you to build your links from there.
Currently, the Anatomy Links site is complete through the lower extremity. Willem is working on adding in connections for the upper extremity and torso but I am not certain when this will be complete as it is an enormous task to try and put all this stuff into the system.
I cannot recommend the Anatomy Links system enough as it has opened up my mind to different ideas and strategies when working on clients. I find myself thinking about people that I work on and looking through the site and considering new connections that I may not have previously considered.
Many have heard the term Regional Interdependence, which in a nutshell tells us that the pain or dysfunction you are experiencing in one area may be created by or related too dysfunction in a region of the body remote to the location of the current complaint. Anatomy Links takes this concept to the next level tying together all of the systems of the body, not just the musculoskeletal system.
I highly suggest checking out the Anatomy Links site as Willem has several other tutorials explaining how to use the site besides the one posted here. The site also has a blog section were Willem occasionally writes ideas and concepts to consider. Willem’s personal blog also has additional articles that reflect his Anatomy Links thought process.
I hope you take the time to investigate the Anatomy Links site and consider the vast possibilities in your treatment approach. Hopefully we will hear more from Willem Kramer in the future, as I believe that he has a lot to offer the industry.