Friday, March 5, 2010


Contribution by author Lynne.

As a Graduate BALIMO^TM Instructor, I have learned that the 10-2 (or
even just 11-1) position [pictured as 10 o’clock and 2 o'clock oR 11:00 and 1:00] of a person's toes when they are walking, without consciously thinking about their feet, is indicative of the relative strength of the muscle chain that either rotates the whole leg in or out (from the hip). The toes point in the direction of the muscle
group that is tighter and more contracted. The solution lies in
balancing the two groups by stretching one and strengthening the other.

One excellent series of exercises, pioneered by Pete Egoscue, is this:
1. Three-position toe raises. Raise up onto the forefoot, then lower to
the ground. Repeat 10 times in each position. First position is with
toes pointing straight ahead, Second position is with toes pointing
outward, Third position is with toes pointing inward.
2. Adductor squeezes: Lying on the floor with both knees bent so the
soles of the feet are flat on the floor, place a pillow betwen the knees
and squeeze the legs together. Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
3. Floor bridge: Holding a pillow between the knees, and beginning from
the "idle" position in #2, raise the back and buttocks up off the floor
so that weight is only on the feet and the shoulders. The raised trunk
should make a relatively straight line to the knees. Hold for one minute.
4. Abductor presses: Starting from position in #2, and using a belt or
strap around the legs just above the knees, press outward against its
resistance. Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
5. Floor bridge. Hold for one minute.
6. Pelvic rocking. To relax the lower back and reintegrate the muscls,
rock the pelvis while lying on the floor. This means alternately raising
and lower the pubis so that the pelvic"bowl" tips backward, and then
forward. Repeat, playing with speed (faster/slower) and range of motion
(full range/partial range in differing degrees) until the back is
feeling limber.

With daily use, these exercises will result in visible improvement
within 2 weeks, and vast improvement in six weeks. They will need to be
made a regular part of the exercise repertoire for the improvements to

Question by reader: My lower back is tight, and when I try to do some exercises that require core use, the back tries to do them instead. What can I do to improve that?

Answer: As for difficulty with tightness in your sacrum and lower lumbar spine, there are a LOT of different exercises you can do to help limber up that area. Two of my favorites are: 1.) Knee over and 2). Crawling three ways. (By the way, if these help you, you can pass them along too, crediting the BALIMO program and its originator, Dr. Eckart Meyners.)

#1:KNEE OVER. Beginning position: Lie on your back with one knee bent so that the foot is flat on the floor, while the other leg is straight. (Let's say left is bent and right is straight.) While keeping your shoulders flat on the floor*, take the left leg across the right leg and attempt to touch the floor on the right side of your body with your left knee. You will feel a resistance that will prevent you, but if you allow gravity to do its job over the course of 5-10 minutes, assisted slightly by the weight of you left hand on your left knee, pressing ever so lightly, you will find that the areas of resistance will "give" a bit. Often the stretch seems to come from the muscles alongside the spine, but there may also be some discomfort in the hip area. You can try raising your left (bent) knee more towards your armpit, or by opening the angle of the knee, lowering the knee more towards your right ankle, while maintaining the stretch. Find the place where you can get the left knee closest to the floor and "dwell" there until you feel some "give." Then you may try different positions of the knee, which will be addressing different attachment points of the tight muscle group. Repeat this daily and you will eventually be able to get your left knee and whole lower leg to lie flat on the floor beside your right leg.
*It is useful to have a second person hold your left shoulder flat to the ground, or you can maneuver so that you anchor your hand and/or wrist under some heavy object (the front apron of a couch or sofa works well). Alternatively you can hold on to a table leg. Experiment with doing this with your anchoring arm's elbow bent or straight to see which is most effective in keeping your shoulder flat on the floor.

#2. CRAWLING THREE WAYS. Beginning position: On "all fours" (hands and knees). a.) Crawl like a baby, but be SURE you are executing a diagonal "foot fall" pattern: left leg, right hand, right leg, left hand, repeat. If you find that you are crawling homolaterally (left leg, left hand, right leg, right hand) STOP and think about (plan) the correct movement pattern before you begin again. b.) Crawl on forearms and knees. The same admonition about diagonal movement applies, but instead of supporting yourself on your hands, you support yourself on your forearms, which will be flat on the floor. c.) Crawl "military low crawl" style, a.k.a. "alligator crawl." Flatten your chest to the floor, and keep it there as much as possible while you are crawling. AVOID lifting your buttocks into the air (imagine they will get "shot off"!). By raising one knee out to the side while rolling onto your opposite hip, and then reversing the process, and using the side of the foot of your bent leg to push off and propel yourself forward, you will make progress. Feel the working of your sacrum and lower lumbar spine. When you can do this with some ease and alacrity, get up and walk and note how much more limber your whole pelvis/lower back will feel.

Nadja King of Horses for Life has just invited me to write an educational article about these kinds of exercises and the ones I've already posted, and I've agreed. So you may see what I've just written here reappearing in the pages of her on-line magazine eventually.

Thanks for asking permission to forward my writings, and thanks for taking the time and trouble to write. I credit Dr. Pete Egoscue. I didn't invent these exercises; he did.

Yours for the horses~