- Dude in question probably has a slightly fallen arch on the foot of the shorter leg. This foot is probably larger (longer) due to flatness from the fallen arch, with the ankle above weak and supinated and the big toe/medial ball of the foot taking all the weight. The longer leg would have the opposite problems, the lesser toes and lateral ball of the foot taking the weight of this side of the body. Other ramifications: uneven closing/clicking of the jaw, frozen shoulder on the longer side, minor instances of unilateral neurapraxia (ie. piriformis/thoracic outlet syndromes, bells palsy, etc.) from pinching of the nerves at rotational hotspots, and a touch of scoliosis to boot.
- From fixing my own similar imbalance I can tell you it is incredibly painstaking a process but can be done. It all begins with the way the foot makes contact with the ground in walking, meaning how the weight moves across the arches in gait and the degree to which forward propulsion comes from pushing off of the stance foot versus stepping or prancing forward with the swing foot. This is ultimately the job of glutes/abductors and psoas/adductors to balance out. Consider that this guy has inhibited glutes on the short side which fail to support the greater trocheanter and cause the femur to lean/rotate forward and internally, and an inhibited psoas on the long side that fails to support the lesser trocheanter and causes the femur to lean/rotate backwards and externally (just femur, lower leg will rotate in opposite plane). As well, the same muscles on the contralateral side will be tight. The whole picture amounts to a rotation of the spine and hence the entire body musculature towards the shorter leg and a tendency to pull up the shoulder on the short side to cover up the scoliotic appearance.
- Walking slowly and purposefully at an oblique angle as an exercise, with feet rotated below the ankle both pointing towards the shorter side, can do wonders to reshape the bones of the foot. So too balancing energy from the central line of the thigh between the medial and lateral components of both quads and hams by marching in place without lifting the feet: moving the knees back and forth evenly and along the plane of the rectus femoris, focusing on the biarticulate connections of this muscle, and without allowing the sole of the foot, heel or toes to leave the ground. The resulting torque of this exercise can be directed up and down the body to bring balance to the whole. Just mindfulness of the weak muscle chains is a good start: weak lateral chain on the short side, weak medial chain on the long side. All work on the foot, legs and hips must also be allowed to carry into similar rotational movement in the hand, arm and shoulder, as well as in the jaw, hyoidals and suboccipitals. Good luck to him, it takes years of dedication to truly resolve this problem once and for all. But it is worth every ounce of effort! I knew my body inside and out by the end, and gained much control and strength, as well as righted my jaw, aligned my teeth to a degree and even grew back some hair on my scalp.
- Many people get their spine twisted simply by training with bad form and too much weight, or at least training worsens a preexisting spinal rotation that could have as simple a root as right-handedness. There is no way to undo these problems other than becoming aware of the invisible tension in your back, to become conscious of the movements made by muscles that are holding on tight due to some ancient trauma, which do not contract in your daily life, but whose help you need to regain balance between the two halves of your body.
- Here is a suggestion: take a muscle relaxant and explore your movements infront of a mirror, looking for feelings of release. Dynamic meditation. Make yourself familiar with new movements, especially at the level of the neck and head. If you feel your head is rotated upon the top of your spine, try to lift your neck and head in a way that lengthens and straightens the cervical spine and brings the chin down and head backwards onto the torso from its regularly forward position. Stretch the **** out of your jaw muscles, to the point of near dislocation, by tilting back your skull as you lift it up, and dropping your jaw and sticking your tongue as far out as possible. Imitate the little men/jaguars in the center of Mayan mandalas. Stretch your mouth and eyes wide. This is an exercise in vital force, and all rotations begin with a falling into passivity by the body, when one merely supports against gravity rather than activey holding themself upward. Fierce faces often found in religious art contain ancient wisdom of self healing. Make your face look ugly. You will need to contort to release your jaw, but once it does, the rest of thebody will start falling into place.
- Every muscle in your body is paired, and as it is, every pair has a tight brother and a loose brother. Your job is to bring them into balance. Your tongue has two halves, but at the tip they move as one, and extending your spine from the hyoid, meaning putting the base of the tongue up and forward, if your body is relaxed, the rest of the spine will follow passively into alignment. If it does not, find the source of the blockage, the immobility where the wavelike movement wont go pass downward in spine legs or arms. Break through the immobility with concentration. Getting it to spasm is the first step to getting it working. Bodybuilders put all their willpower into lifting big weights. Bodybalancers put all their willpower onto lifting their own weight with their whole body. And as bodybuilders get stronger over time, trust that these painstaking feats of concentration get easier the longer your practice. Alignment happens all at once when you find it in your stretches, but making a habit of staying in alignment is a matter of time and training. I would recomment Alexander technique to anyone looking to align their bodies. It is damn near custom designed to heal people from this problem, and is presents active solutions where yoga and martial arts present passive solutions.
- Here, another great balancing exercise you see in Mayan art. Stand with the legs spread and the feet outward at 180-degrees from each other. Engage the gluteus maximus to tuck the pelvis while bending the knees laterally from the hip abductors to assume a kind of ziggurat stance, while simultaneously using your lats to bend your elbows and raise your palms upward. Look for tightness and unevenness in the lower back and SI joint while doing this. Allow it expression as an unwinding and assume whatever contortions follow; they are all necessary stations on your way to straightness.
- The complimentary motion that straightens the legs is hip adduction, squeezing the inner thighs together. From the previous stance, do this while keeping the gluteus maximus contracted. It will push you into a pelvic thrust that is very healthy for evening out spinal movement.
- The great thing about this position is how easily it becomes a lunge, which is an innvaluable but often misunderstood stretch for spinal tension from the hip. Most people assume the lunge shape then attempt the stretch, and never quite get the full benefits. The zigurat stance eases you into the proper mechanics of a lunge. If your glutes are inhibited, as is often the case with such inbalances, be prepared to push as hard with your willpower as any power lifter does to get them contracting together and in a straight line. Just watch out, cause its also easier to drop the bar.
- Here are more ideas. The lateral S-curve to the spine begins with the shape of the foot and its lateral and medial arches. Shape of the arches is determined by the paired bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula). If these bones rotate differently between the two legs in gait, the arches of the two feet will be different shapes, and this is the origin of the hip-imbalance/scoliosis that everyone seems to have these days. Your feet are locked in their shape by your weight moving through them into the ground. Change begins with regaining mobility in the lower leg, particularly the soleus that controls the fibula (and returns blood to your upper body) and the toe extensors in the front of the leg which are sadly undertrained by people who think the calf is the only muscle there!
- Further problems come when these bones are relatively immobile during gait and do not generate sufficient torque to straighten the spine from movement alone. Similarly, they may have mobility, but stiffness in the lats prevents the torque from being translated from the glutes up to the shoulder for a sympathetic rotation in the paired bones of the forearm and a healthy shoulder swing while walking. Then you get frozen-shoulder/thoracic-outlet/jaw-weakness and various other common problems.
- The solution to all these problems is the same. Increase your general consciousness off the lower leg and the ankle in particular by learning to grab the ground with your feet and to generate torque and move it up your thigh and into your spine as you walk. Do you know that the ankle support provided by most shoes weakens the ankle tremendously over time by performing the ankle's job for it? For starters, learn how to walk inside your shoe rather than with your shoe'd foot as a whole. Stretch your lower leg and feet like mad! Stretch your thighs, which will be out of balance and overly tight at the hamstring (that becomes tight as rock when the ankles are weak to protect them from rolling). Bring that stretch up into the obliques, which are really extensions of the legs. Try to hit your right serratus anterior and rotator cuff, which might just be the key spot that puts your back into sufficient symmetry to hit the bench properly.
- The most important thing from this, though, is that to align the pelvis, the legs must be straightened and brought into balance with each other. Then everything else falls into place. You will have to learn how to balance on your feet again, as if you were a baby learning to walk, or as if your were learning to surf with the whole world as your surfboard. It will take longer for you than it would a baby because you have to first break down old habits, and this is where everyone runs aground. Only with incredibly powerful desire for change and severe perseverance can you summon the willpower necessary to stretch decades-old tensions and restore youthful length to your musculature. In the process you will also have to resolve the psychological tensions that hold you this way. Knowledge is far second to willful effort over time. There are only so many ways someone can tell you to relax and stand up straight and tall with your chest held high by your abs, and your abs held long by an extended lumbar spine, and your hips forward to allow the spine to extend down and forward (tailbone swinging like a wasp's stinger I always imagine). If one side feels like it is dropping, straighten it! It all comes down to the actual doing of it. Lengthening and straightening all of the time. Even in bed while sleeping. Anything less and you will not be worthy of the health and happiness that come with balance.
- The important thing is that we know it is a track. When I begin a stretch, I feel I am unwinding along a prescribed pathway. I know that when I feel a click or a pop anywhere along the way, that I have missed an important avenue, and I will backtrack and try to find what muscle or fibrous grouping I failed to allow expression. If you can get on the track and persist in the stretch long enough, it is possible to eventually reach symmetry and regain the essential pulsing wavelike internal motion of the body. I get on track between my shoulder blades, by squeezing them a bit and allowing their circular, unwinding movement to begin. The expression that opens up from there is pandiculation, but it radiates out as we continue down the track: one proper unbroken figure-eight for each vertebra, each new spinal nerve activated widening the circle and expanding its influence toward attaining a singular spinal movement which is the lever action of the body as a whole under gravity.
- The even more important thing, the thing which will sound insane, but which attempts to communicate the deepest truth I know, is that the failing of the spine under gravity is exactly one and the same as the failing of the mind under morality. If you need a better explanation than the fact we are first and foremost moral (that is, social) entities, if you reject the idea of morality because it suggests a spiritual reality to man, then consider this. To be a social organism is to be a communicative organism, for mankind is attempting to come together as a larger organism just as the cells in your body have come together to make you. The adaptive mechanism for this evolution is global truthful communication. This is not a function of verbal language, however. Words are not only for truthful communication, but are also how individuals attempt to hide from one another. But we cannot hide what the shape of the spine tells all others about the nature of our habitual actions and the guilt and shame we carry within. The guilt and the shame distort the body with tensions, and we are all experts on reading each other's proportions and movements. We always know exactly who stands before us, though few people have the clarity to know it consciously, and even fewer to put it to words.
- Stretching alone will not get you where you want to go. However much you unwind over the day, you will go to sleep and your unconscious mind will twist you back up so that the next day you have to start all over again. Understand that life is a test. What you do in private matters. You must grow as a moral entity. Whatever you loathe about your thoughts and behaviour, your must erradicate with extreme prejudice. Just as shame would weigh you to the ground and turn you into a worm in the eyes of the other, pride will lift you with scapular wings and transform you into an angel. Pride cannot be faked. A straight and symmetrical body with freedom of movement and expression cannot be grown without a good soul. No technology or exercise program will do that for you.
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