Today's article is written by Pete Egoscue
If you’re a client at any of our clinics or over Skype, by now you have probably used the Egoscue Tower for Supine Groin in any of its many forms. If you haven’t yet, you’re probably not far away. Supine Groin is an essential component to reestablishing a balanced and symmetrical body, but it might not be obvious what exactly that Egoscue Tower is accomplishing, especially since we’re lying on our backs throughout the exercise, not “feeling much” happen and ostensibly not really moving that much. But looks are deceiving, and the fact is the load-bearing joints and hundreds of muscles are being affected during Supine Groin.
Because we’re a movement organism, it’s logical to assume that whenever we’re in a static position, we’re passive. We tend to think of sleep as the ultimate in stasis, but the truth is that when we are sleeping, we are far from passive, and we’re definitely not lying still. It’s certainly true that the heart rate slows down during sleep as does the rate of respiration, but the mind is still intensely active (dreams anyone?), and there are times when the eyes move more rapidly during sleep than at any point during wakefulness (REM).
But that’s not all. When we sleep, there is also an emotional and psychological clearing, a reordering and centering that takes place in our brains and beings that is a tremendously active metabolic process in terms of energy exchange. That old cliché about needing to sleep on a tough decision—it’s a cliché because the practice works. A little time often brings clarity, especially time spent in slumber. And because I’m an Oklahoma boy at heart, I can’t help tossing out this additional example: Fields are much more fertile after they’ve lain fallow for at least a year.
Similarly, when we lie on our backs apparently not doing much of anything during Supine Groin, we are actually engaged in a dynamic resting, recouping, re-energizing and reorganizing of our bodies.
Most of us experience pain because our postural integrity has been compromised—our symmetry is off, our balance is askew, and our full range of motion has been lessened, sometimes to a staggering degree. When that happens, our load-bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles) aren’t having the conversations with each other that they used to. For example, a knee that sits aligned directly over an ankle can speak easily with that ankle, but a knee positioned inside of the ankle, or out in front—it’s having a very different and strained conversation and sometimes isn’t able to break through at all.
Our body, however, is smarter than we tend to give it credit. Our joints know when they’re out of alignment with each other, so the body makes corrections to compensate. Our body has what’s called muscle memory. Muscles know how they’re supposed to function (as do joints), and when we’re in pain, those muscles and joints are trying to tell us that they, and subsequently we, are not functioning properly. When that’s the case, lines of communication between the joints have been cut off, and Supine Groin is a fantastic way to get that conversation going again.
In other words, when we’re compromised, we walk in such a way that our joints don’t communicate properly. Supine Groin gets those joints and muscles communicating properly in a fashion that mimics our normal walk, broken down by the moment and held in position for an extended period of time. And when the joints are communicating again, they and the muscles are restored to balance, and the body is restored to symmetry.
Supine Groin keeps straight the foot of the extended leg so that it cannot point in or out, subsequently aligning the ankle joint with the knee joint, and this causes the body to understand (or remember) the vertical load of the way the joints are supposed to be.
On the straight leg, Supine Groin is restoring balance in the extension mode of our walking while on the bent knee it is reestablishing balance in mid-stance mode, or flexion mode. In effect, the body is standing on one leg while in the Tower, frozen in proper mid-stride, and when completed, the muscle components for straightening, rotating and bending have reorganized themselves to a balanced position, thus compelling the joints to be vertically stable and aligned.
We respond to stimulus. For our bodies to change, we have to change our stimulus. Supine Groin does that, and it does so with extreme efficiency; given the torrid pace of our modern world, the ability to correct our bodies so thoroughly in less than an hour is no small matter.
So don’t let others be fooled. If you’re lying in supine groin, you are not lying there doing nothing. Your body is very rigorously calling upon its muscles to work those joints back to where they belong.
And your body is incredibly grateful for it.
If you want to hear more about the Egoscue Tower, watch this video by Brian Bradley: