Are you twisted?

Most of us are twisted in one way or another…and I’m not talking about anything that you might be dressing up as for Halloween tonight (that’s your business). What I am talking about is how your body holds itself. Whether you realize it or not your body is probably contorting itself in order to give you the illusion of being “straight”.

We don’t even realize it but our body will contort itself in order to keep you moving straight ahead. The underlying causes of this contorting are imbalances in the body that must be address in order to avoid injuries.

Here is what I want you to do. Go into a quiet, darkened room and close your eyes. Keeping your eyes closed, start to march in place. Make sure that you are bringing your knees up to that the top of your thighs are parallel to the ground. Set a timer for 60 seconds and march until the timer goes off.

When you open your eyes see where you are in relation to where you started. Odds are pretty high that you will have turned significantly to one side. If this is the case, it indicates that your body is twisted.

When we take away the auditory and visual stimulus (which is achieved by the quiet, darkened room) your body will start to show you how it really holds itself.

We don’t even realize it but our body will contort itself in order to keep you moving straight ahead. The underlying causes of this contorting are imbalances in the body that must be address in order to avoid injuries.

When you take your eyes and ears out of the equation your body will simply “untwist” itself and as a result you will start to turn as you march. The side you twisted towards is usually tight in the hip flexors and quads and weak in the glutes. This imbalance means that you are overcompensating for this bad movement with the other leg.

All of this adds up to one thing – you are losing pedaling power and you are going to break down and get hurt at some point if you do not restore balance to your body. Odds are you are already dealing with some sort of chronic pain as a result of this imbalance and the bad movement it causes. Your exercise program needs to play a major role in this correcting this.

I highly suggest that if you found yourself facing a different direction when you stopped marching that you avoid much in the way of two legged exercises. Every time you use both of your legs at once your dominant leg is making up for the bad movement on the other leg which just reinforces the imbalance.

Instead, concentrate on single leg exercises, particularly the Stagger Stance Squat, Bulgarian Split Squat and Airborne Lunge. I use these exercises in my programs like the No Gym, No Problem Bodyweight Workout Program to help to retrain the bad movement on the weaker side which will save wear and tear on the other side. Restoring balance between your limbs is essential. Some studies have shown that imbalances between limbs are one of the biggest indicators of injury potential. You ignore these imbalances at your own peril.

This twisting is also one of the biggest reasons that people seek chiropractic, massage, yoga, Pilates and a whole variety of other means of lengthening, loosening and restoring balance to the body. All of these methods can be helpful, if they are being applied in a way specific to your condition. Taking responsibility to know what you need and how to best address it is the best way for ensure the results you are looking for.

So try the march in a dark and quite room…you may be surprised by what you find out. If you are twisting take some time to build your single leg strength and quality of movement. Using your training program to help restore balance is the best way to make sure that it is helping you do more than just burn some calories and not setting you up for a future injury.

-James Wilson-

Social Comments:

WordPress Comments:

  1. Robert says:

    You’re test is good and MTB-specific, but here’s another one: try to swim in a lake (or quiet sea) aiming to keep a direction. Swim on your back of course, so you can only see the sky. Don’t cheat by looking around. Swim for a minute or two. Then find your bearings. Spooky 🙂
    I believe being twisted is the reason why people who are lost in the dark or fog are walking in circles.
    Very eye-opening article, thank you!

    Reply • October 31 at 10:03 am
  2. Dimo says:

    Ha! 45 seconds into it I slammed my knee into the left wall, I had turned a full 90 degrees left and walked forward/left 10 feet. I’ll have to video tape it next time for giggles.

    So how long does it take to ‘untwist’ yourself? When should I expect to not turn during this exercise? What does it mean if I’m moving forward during the marching?

    Reply • October 31 at 11:14 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      It isn’t a very scientific test so don’t read too much into it. I’m not sure the goal is for there to be no twisting, you’re always going to have some just based on your having a dominant side. It is more of a wake up call for situations like yours where things are WAY off after a minute or less. The take home message is to focus on restoring balance with a lot of unilateral work and some stretching/ mobility work that focuses on your tight areas.

      Reply • November 2 at 10:18 am
  3. Michael says:

    Hi, James
    I found myself not twisting but moving sideways to my left. Which is my front foot and forwards. What Dose this mean i need to work on my right side more?

    Reply • November 1 at 4:54 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Probably, but the true test is doing some single leg exercises like Stagger Stance Squats and Single Leg Squats and seeing if you notice a big difference between the two. Odds are you are much stronger and stable on one side than the other and you need to address that with your training program.

      Reply • November 2 at 10:20 am
  4. Anthony says:

    Hi James great post. ! I took the test and ended up facing in about the same direction but considerably forward and 45 degrees left of of the position I started in. Hard to say but where do you think my weakness is based on this ?

    Reply • November 4 at 2:38 pm
  5. Wacek says:

    Ha ha! I don’t have that problem, as I work out so much with the use Nintendo Wii and their balance board!

    No just joking, I sure turn a lot… great stuff James!

    Reply • November 4 at 3:09 pm
  6. cookie says:


    you might like this story from Catalyst, an Australian science program:

    Still, single leg work and single arm pushups are a great idea.. aka “Naked Warrior” 🙂


    Reply • November 7 at 7:37 pm
  7. Derek says:

    Ive been concerned about this for quite awhile and I think another symptom of this is imbalanced muscle fatigue and stress during and after a ride. This is also VERY evident when foam rolling as well. Ive been considering some adjustments to my bike setup as im not convinced that i can completely correct the issue with altering my training methods, thougts?

    Reply • November 20 at 10:25 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I’d say that off-bike training is the only way to correct it bike set up won’t really fix the issues since cycling in general is going to develop imbalances and problems. A really bad bike set up can hurt but the best set up in the world won’t fix or prevent the problems.

      Reply • November 21 at 11:10 am

Add a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *


Follow MTB Strength Training Systems:
James Wilson
Author and Professional
Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson