This is part 3 of the Egoscue Method and Running Injuries series.
Are These E-Cises Too Easy?
On the surface, the e-cises appear like they should be easy. For example, the quad lift e-cise merely requires you to sit against a wall, create an arch in your back, and raise your leg off the ground.
However, it was extremely hard for me.
I could barely get my leg off the ground and felt my lower back engage to help with lifting the leg. I informed Matt about my trouble with this e-cise and he told me that it showed that my hip flexor muscles were extremely weak.
Another e-cise that seemed like it should be easy was the standing glute contractions. This e-cise simply requires you to stand with your hands at your sides and flex your glute muscles – making sure that your hamstring and back muscles are not the muslces that are flexing.
Just standing up and flexing my rear end? Should be no problem, right?
I found it very hard to isolate my glute muscles with my hamstring or lower back muscles taking over. Matt told me that this shows that my glutes are very weak.
So based merely on these two exercises, I got a pretty good idea that my glutes and hip flexors are very weak and that other muscles (i.e. lower back muscles) are picking up the slack for them. Clearly this could create all sorts of overuse problems for my hip and back.
In fact, it’s kind of amazing that I am able to lift my leg and propel myself forward during running. The primary muscles responsible for these motions are basically non-functional!
One e-cise that did not require a lot of muscle strength was the supine progressive stretch in tower. Matt does a great job of explaining this stretch on his web site. The overall goal is to promote proper flexion and extension of the leg.
The basic idea is that you lie on the floor with one leg over a block or chair, bent to 90 degrees. The other foot is placed in the highest rung of the Egoscue “tower.” You stay in this position for five minutes, then place the foot in the next lowest rung of the tower and wait another five minutes.
There are 6 rungs of the Egoscue tower, so this entire stretch takes one hour for both legs. Definitely a major commitment of time, but I have already felt looser in my hips.
In summary, this first e-cise menu has showed me the incredible tightness and weakness of my hip flexor and glute muscles. I’m really looking forward to doing the exercises and seeing if I can address the longstanding imbalances throughout my body.
There is no question that doing the entire menu of e-cises everyday takes some time (currently from 80-100 minutes), but I am sick of being in pain and willing to make an investment of time to hopefully run without chronic injuries.
Visit Oregon Exercise Therapy for more information about the Egoscue Method.
Disclaimer: This post is part of a collaboration with Oregon Exercise Therapy. All opinions are my own.