The other day I was standing on a balcony in a tiny Croatian village called Rovinj, and I looked down at my feet. Normally, I look down at my feet and see that they are straight ahead, and the weight is essentially balanced equally between them.
This is important because when you go to take a step forward, the hip (hip flexor to be precise!) will hopefully lift the leg, and the knee and the foot will hopefully track straight ahead. This is good basic mechanics and what I want for all of my clients.
However, as I mentioned, I was in a tiny village and although I attempted valiantly to stay on top of my workouts, I didn’t succeed 100% of the time while on holiday, and even had missed a few intermittent days entirely.
One of the things I tell my clients repeatedly is that every day I get my glutes to work, and the next day I wake up and they are not working again. In retrospect, it has been a long time since I have not done some sort of glute work first thing in the morning, and two lazy days later, I find myself standing on the balcony.
I don’t often start my morning barefoot on a shiny tiled balcony listening to the birds, but I did pause to take in this glorious moment, and I noticed after standing for a bit that I felt slightly off.
I wondered what could possibly be wrong. It was such a lovely morning!
I looked down, and to my great horror, I observed that my right foot was turned out. Worse than that, my right foot was slightly forward of my left foot, and the weight was shifted onto my left side with my hip jutting slightly out to the left. Hence, the “off” feeling.
Why, you might ask, is this such a terrible state of affairs?
One of my favorite “diagnostic” tools is to have my clients observe the weight distribution in their feet as well as what direction their feet might be pointing both while they are standing still as well as when they move.
So, if my right foot is pointing out, it might very well point out when I go to move. That means instead of my hip flexor picking my leg up and my knee and foot tracking straight ahead, I might use other muscles instead…. namely the adductor muscles on the inside of the thigh slightly more.
One day: not a big deal.
Multiple days: BIG DEAL!
Remember, we are always trying to balance the muscle pairs, and what muscles are paired with adductors? Glutes! So if my leg is turned out and the adductor muscles are given an opportunity to work with every step, you can see how easy it is to have those adductors get very strong and the glute muscles very weak.
Then you have saggy useless bun-buns, and that’s no fun! 🙁
Even worse, remember how I noticed that my right foot was slightly forward of my left foot, and the weight was shifted onto my left side with my hip jutting slightly out to the left? This was easy to notice since I had tiles with grout lines to compare sides. (Wood floors work well for this, too.)
Why is one foot further forward of the other significant?
Well, it often signals rotation of the entire body…aka you are twisted. Chiropractors will tell you that rotation is one of the trickiest things to get rid of in the body.
Try lining your feet up using the edge of a tile or wood plank or threshold. If you’re rotated, often having your feet in the same plane will feel weird and you’d rather move one out and forward again.
One hip jutted out?
That means I am favoring one side over the other, and that more weight is on one side of the body. The side of the body that has more weight will most likely complain over time.
Think of the house example: if you build one side of your third floor slightly higher than the other, where will all the furniture slide? All the weight shifts to the downhill side and you’ll eventually notice.
Again: One day- no biggie. Multiple days and months and years- generally problematic.
Therefore, there are three things to address: foot turned out, one foot in front of the other, and more weight on one foot.
All this from two lazy days… which included 6 hours sitting on a ferry. I’ll guess sitting was the main muscle balance destroying culprit!
How do you fix it?
Well, you’ve got to balance those adductors and glutes. Here’s one familiar exercise to try with a few tweaks:
- Spread your feet really far apart with your feet straight ahead.
- Bend one knee, and sink into that hip feeling the hip flexor on the bent knee side while the inside of the thigh- the adductor- stretches on the straight leg side.
- Now drive through the bent knee heel, and see if you can activate the glute to push your leg straight and back to center.
- Try for 90 seconds (the magical muscle release and reset number) and see if you can get the adductors to release, and the glutes to activate.
Good luck and let me know in the comments below how glides worked for you!