Why are muscles called liters / leaders? | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Why are muscles called liters / leaders?

Since writing this post on my site at http://intouchpt.wordpress.com, I've had some welcoming comments and more understanding of my mis-interpretation.  

For me to hear "liters" is most likely "leaders".  T's and D's are drawn out together around here :)  Too bad I didn't get corrected by my patients or colleagues !  But either way, that was the reason I posted it. 
So the more likely answer, thanks to Eric, Andrew and Travis; is that the old slang refers to leaders instead of liters.  This relates to a fishing term (you can tell I don't fish...) when the line gets taut and pulls, like a muscle or tendon.  Either way you interpret it, enjoy the original post below :)
Growing up and now working professionally in southern Virginia for almost 8 years has taught me a lot …particularly that this region has its own language!  I have come across many phrases and jargon…most resulting in a giggle then a shake of my head as I’m from these parts.  We tend to leave off the “g” in our words, such as “sitting” turns to “sittin”  or “all of you all” turns to “all y’all”.  The almanac is King, hearing thunder in winter and seeing cardinals means it will snow.
There is one that continues to arise, seemingly day in and day out, from my older population in regards to what we all deal with in the PT profession….Liters.
Liters as a description of muscles/tendons from my patients…but according to the online slang dictionary…it can be used for one’s tendons, joints or ligaments of any location in the body.
A conversation from patient may go something like this,
“My liter is tight & pulling down back of my leg”
“What do you think is wrong with my liter
I will ask patients, tactfully, how they came up with liters as meaning of muscles & tendons.  I get answers ranging from my doctor told me that to simply having no idea as it was passed down from their parents/grandparents.  I have also heard someone say, “no one has ever told me I had a liter problem”.
So I wanted to find the origin of this puzzle.
Just like any sound human being, I went to google to search but really found nothing.
So here are my thoughts.   With an emphasis on maybe
  • Maybe the origin came from the heart (although not skeletal muscle) pumping out 5 liters of blood each minute.
  • Maybe the Latin root “liter” meaning “letters” translating in English to “literacy, illiterate, literature” somehow links to muscles/tendons…?
  • Maybe that skeletal muscle is 70% water…and a metric unit of water is a liter…whereas one liter of water is equal to 1 kilogram of mass.  Mass of the body can be measured in kilograms and ~55-65% of mass in body is from the muscles.
  • Maybe liter could have been mis-pronounced from litter…and there could be differences in skeletal muscle in a litter of cats (but found will catch up later in life) and skeletal muscle inlitters of rats have been studied…
  • Liter can also be defined as objects strewn or scattered about.  Maybe its relation to fascia?
  • Dialect and accent from the south…phonetically… litter from a doctor sounds like muscle or tendon.
None of my patients know (even ones that use the verbage), I don’t know, so you tell me/us…what is the origin of liter as it relates to muscles/tendons?

Thanks for reading!

Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

Keeping it Eclectic...

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