July
22

Are you twisted?

Most of us are twisted in one way or another…and I’m not talking about anything that you might be involved in (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”.

Here is what I want you to do. Go into a quite, 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 quite, 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 Split Squat and Bulgarian Split Squat. Both of these exercises will 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-

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  1. Ivan says:

    Fantastic post, I have been struggling to get the balance back. I got a disc bulge twice from the imbalance – doing heavy squats and d/ls last Winter and tilt – it’s like electric shock then everything locks up in like 10 minutes.. I did a lot of PT and totally fixed the disc, but now need to rebuild my legs so badly. I have been riding a lot and starting over with super light weight front squats and d/ls, but split squats makes so much sense to correct the imbalance. I also have a difference in step height when I do hip hikers.

    It’s all on one side – the stiffness, the bulge (was), the low step… I think the stiff hip flexor and psoas really pull on the disc on that side too. Not sure exactly, my PT was kinda vague about it. He did acknowledge the imbalance though and his exercises on the ball like marches and kicks helped balance me out, but now with long , hard riding and lifting it’s back out of whack.

    I’m totally switching it up starting tomorrow. Thanks!

    PS – I got the program you have here and am going to try to apply it. The double body weight d/l I need to get back to that strength, but safely.

    Reply • July 23 at 3:10 am
  2. electric says:

    Definitely I am twisted, I think most people are, back when i got into riding skinnies it was immediately obvious. I read once that women are more twisted than men though, lol, because women often stand on one leg where men are more often to stand on both in a more upright fashion. There are other indicators like how your shoes wear out, how you lean when sitting in a chair(probably causing a weak core on one side) or how perpendicularly you hold your head and shoulders to your spine and hips.

    I definitely agree there are performance gains to be made by trying to even out your posture… can’t fire a cannon from a canoe, let alone a canoe that is almost tipping over!

    Reply • July 25 at 2:08 pm
  3. Ned says:

    Very interesting, I turned the opposite direction I would’ve guessed. I guess since I know my right side is problematic I’ve focused more on loosening that side and have been neglecting the left side a bit. This is some great insight into what your body is really up to.

    Reply • July 25 at 10:27 pm
  4. Walt says:

    I’m twisted bad. I turn almost 270 degrees to left each time I do the test. But my cronic pain when I climb hard sitting is in my right hip, not left … interesting. So, with the Db combos program, this means I should eliminate the front squats (a 2 legged exercise)? And what should I substitute instead? Also, when I try the windmill with a very light dumbell, I can do it easily to the right, all the way to the ground. But to the left, I lock up. I try yoga triangle pose to stretch it out but nothing works. What should I do?

    Reply • July 26 at 12:22 pm
    • bikejames says:

      @ Walt – doing the squat won’t hurt, it is the only double leg exercise in the whole program. The only way to fix it is with patience and a lot of hip mobility work like foam rolling, quad and hip flexor stretches and exercise like the Windmill.

      Reply • July 26 at 3:52 pm
  5. Ray Kirton says:

    Hi James
    What excellent body information you have provided.

    I have had body problems for some time….tried all sorts of ideas and practitioners.

    Just recently hard foam rolled out one leg which was full of trigger points…and then thought my body may be twisted. I think the psoas could also be a problem.

    And ….the one legged exercises require lots of energy.
    Thanks again…………………………….

    Reply • February 8 at 8:32 pm
  6. Nadja says:

    WOW it is unfortunate that we only find information like that once we have diagnose the problem ourselves!!!
    Wish most practionners were better informed.
    I spent over 10K on all kind of olympic team specialists, got MRI done, scans,, etc… It lasted for 6 years before I even noticed myself I was twisted.
    I was almost paralysed in the way that I could turn my head anymore, couldn’t drive, couldn’t stand for more then 10 min. I felt numness in all of one arm and in all of one foot.
    So I stopped working I could get myself to work or even do my makeup. Horrible nightare for a professional dancer.

    They diagnosed (wrongly) a short leg of one inch and gave me insole for one foot. I got all of my shoes adjusted. Then I trained to compete in fitness/bodybuilding and to the level of Pros for 2 years with this wrongly added insole in one legg. Can you imagine how twised and jamed I got after all that.
    Anyway… Im sooooooooooooo happy to find that Im not alone, not crazy either and I had a huge problem.
    I am almost done fixing it after trowing away that one inch insole and training without it for two years now.

    Im not here to complain bu more to give hope that it can be fixed. With a lot a lot of self awareness and contious healthy posture habits. I don’t think anyone can acheive it though. It requires a spirit with lots of determination and perseverence, as well as a meticulous person.

    Good luck to all of you stwisted people; )

    Reply • April 10 at 9:57 am

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James Wilson
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James Wilson