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This is the first in a four-part series about balance, I’ll be discussing a not so common reason for lack of core balance.  In the following post, we’ll go over:

  • Jimmy’s case study,
  • Why your balance fails,
  • The Balanced Solution, and
  • So what does this have to do with baseball…

 

Jimmy’s Case Study

Jimmy (not his real name) came in with his dad to be evaluated for toeing in when he walks. Jimmy is 12 years old and 6 foot tall and weighs close to 200 pounds! Here’s how my conversation went with his dad…

  • Dr. Stanley: “Does he play football?”
  • Dad: “Yes he does”.
  • Dr. Stanley: “What position?”
  • Dad: “Offensive tackle”.
  • Dr. Stanley: “How does he do?”
  • Dad: “He’s great in run blocking, but the Defensive end gets around him easily in pass protection”.

I examined Jimmy and found that both of his thigh bones rotated inwards close to 90 degrees, but they only rotated outwards about 20 degrees instead of the same in both directions. I also noted that his feet flattened. This uneven rotation is called internal femoral position.

There are several reasons why people toe in (pigeon toes). It can be due to a “C” shaped foot (Metatarsus Adductus), a twisted shin bone (internal tibial torsion), or a twist in the thigh bone or hip joint (internal femoral position). Children that toe in tend to be clumsy and “trip over their feet”.

MAV

 

Why Your Balance Fails

Internal femoral position  was noted by Margaret Fitzhugh in the early 1900’s to be associated with a “W” sitting position (a kneeling position where the legs spread out and the butt touches the ground), and she felt internal femoral position was caused by it.

Sitting

About 30 years ago, I noticed that the children with internal femoral position had a history of falling forwards or backwards when they started to walk, whereas normal children would stick out their butt and land on their soft diaper.

This inability to land on their butt led me to ask a simple question-“How long did your child sit before he/she crawled?”. I found out that the vast majority did not sit at all. (The sitting occurs at about six months and should last for 2 weeks before the child starts to crawl).

Children that crawl and miss the sitting position, kneel instead of sitting. In kneeling, the balance is developed around the knee. In sitting, balance is developed around the core.

As a result, when a child that kneels, starts to walk and gets imbalanced, the reflex is to bend the knees. This results in the falling forward or backwards. Children that sit, develop balance around the hips and can either flex or extend their hips and when they start to walk and become imbalanced, this hip balance point allows them to land on their diaper.

 

The Balanced Solution

It turns out that the treatment for this balance issue is easily resolved in a short time. Jimmy was instructed to “Chair dance” for 10 minutes a day  and his football playing improved remarkably.

His toe in was treated with a combination of gait plates, exercises, and roller skating. This took longer, but he was eventually able to walk with his feet straight ahead.

 

So what does this have to do with baseball?

It turns out that the “W” sitting position in children is associated with less postural control and stability. Internal femoral position is associated with running like Daffy Duck, with the feet going out to the side. In baseball a hitter needs to be able to stand in a good stable hitting position. If a hitter wobbles, then the ball appears to move, making it more difficult to hit.

Joey Myers Comments: CLICK HERE to check out this article by Physical Therapist and co-founder of the Functional Muscle Screen (FMS) Gray Cook, on this article titled “Early Perspectives on Functional Movement”.

CLICK HERE for Part-2, where I’ll be discussing Ankle balance (frontal plane) and how to improve it…

Dr. Stanley Beekman

I graduated from Podiatric medical college in 1976 and then finished a surgical residency and a biomechanics fellowship. I have recently retired as a practicing podiatrist treating sports medicine since 1978. I also was an Associate Professor at the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine where I taught Sports Medicine. I have run marathons, competed successfully in Olympic lifting, power lifting and karate in the master's age groups. Along the way, I became a licensed massotherapistand graduated as a mechanotherapist (similar to chiropractic). They eliminated licensure for mechanotherapy, but it opened my eyes to other therapies. I have taken 500 hours of applied kinesiology and combined that with fascial therapies. As a result I treated the body as a Biotensegrity structure and reset sensors and change processing to make immediate postural and functional changes via acupressure and other manual means. I have also coached little league for the last four years.
Dr. Stanley Beekman
8 replies
  1. Rob Suelflohn
    Rob Suelflohn says:

    I read this the other day and forgot about it…then while at the gym I recalled that my lower leg around the knees doesn’t feel as strong as it was when I was younger…I would go on to say that the power and balance INTO the ground is not what it was in my college days either, seems more like I walk on top of the ground as opposed to thru and into the ground….anyway I did this chair dance thing and I think it really helped it, seemd to drop my center of gravility and repair the areas where it has NOT been all these years…hope this makes sense.

    Rob Suelflohn 55yrs old former world class shotputter

    Reply
  2. Dr. Stanley
    Dr. Stanley says:

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the comment. Comments like this that have helped me expand the way I think. The Chair dance as I have used it is to develop balance around the hip in children that have developed balance around the knee. I could easily say that you just needed to increase your hip balance, but things may not always be so simple.

    Another possibility is that since you as a shot putter have had good balance, there may be another mechanism working for its effect on you.

    I think what may be happening is something similar to Tai Chi. I have begun to think that Tai Chi works by warming up the fascial lines. When the fascial lines are functioning better, the body functions better. I will be writing something on stretching and I will talk about the benefits of warming up.
    Just to give you a little background on this, the body is a bio tensegrity system. A simple tensegrity system is a bicycle wheel, where every part is weak, but under tension it is strong. The body has a hub (the bones), the rim (the superficial fascia) and the spokes (the anatomy trains which roughly correspond to the meridians). A biotensegrity system is a tensegrity system that can move. To do this there has to be some motor, processing and sensing. The sensing can be either neurological or through changes in tension (mechanoconduction [this is how acupuncture works]). Movements send tension signals to the brain. The brain has the ability to reset muscle sensors (ie alpha gamma co-activation). So the theoretical reason why this helped is that the brain was alerted to a dysfunction someplace and reset the signals. The bigger question that this raises is why doesn’t the brain reset the sensors all the time, and what pattern causes the brain to reset the signals.

    All great things start with a question, and you have a great question.

    Thanks,

    Dr. Stanley

    Reply
  3. Rob Suelflohn
    Rob Suelflohn says:

    Hmm thanks for the reply Dr. Stanley. this seems to have an effect on my ability or lack of , to jump…which used to be quite outstanding…and then weakens other areas of strength. So it is my major area as I look at my previous accomplishments and drop off since getting over 50…any thoughts are very welcome. I have tried jumping, squating, and blah blah but to no real change.
    Rob

    Reply
  4. Dr. Stanley Beekman
    Dr. Stanley Beekman says:

    Hi Rob,

    There is an exercise that is directly correlated to jumping according to the Russian research from years back. That exercise is the snatch. Obviously, the power comes from the pull, and not going into the squat (however the ability to relax the muscles in the squat portion may have something to do with turning off the antagonists). When I write about conditioning, I will eventually get to how to develop speed strength. Since I know you can’t wait, I will give you the nuts and bolts of it.

    Westside Barbell club (Louis Simmons’ gym) works with power lifters and they have seminars. They also used the Russian studies and interpreted it better than I. They use a speed workout once a week for neurologic development; and a strength workout once a week for muscular development.

    I used these principles in developing my own workout in Olympic lifting. For the speed workout I would use the big rubber bands and hang them from a power rack and put them around the bar. The height would be adjusted so the rubber bands have no tension at the top of the pull (if it doesn’t work out exactly, it doesn’t matter). I forget what weight I used, as it has been 13 years ago, so I would start with 50% of my max and then work up. The reps are 2-3 and the sets are 8-12. So start with 8 sets of 2’s. Go as fast as you can with each set. Keep your back solid at the start. (Hook your back to engage the erectors, press your belly out and tighten it to engage the transverse abdominis, flex slightly at the waist to engage the rectus abdominis, and big chest so you don’t throw out your rib heads. Also remember to breathe out, as this engages the fascia (breathing is the first movement and it is involved with all correct movements). There is up to a minute rest between sets. Use straps. Increase the sets as you feel you can. When you get to 12 sets, then move up to 8 triples. When you get to 12 triples, increase the weight and go down to 8 doubles. The rectus femoris will feel like it on fire.

    The strength day consists of snatch dead lifts. Work up in triples to your max. Max being when you can’t do a triple.

    I am sure you know the typical assistance work that follows (Core and hamstring curls). Foot exercises is a useful adjunct as the foot muscles store a lot of energy for use in the jump. Have somebody video tape your lifting. The reason is to find what assistance exercises need to be added, as the weaknesses can get shown on technique failures.
    The above makes the assumption that you have no problems with the sensors in the muscles or other body areas (ie muscle spindle cell injuries via strain-counter-strain or reverse strain counter-strain). When there is a sensor problem muscles are inhibited and the inability to get a threshold contraction will prevent the muscle from responding to the exercise.

    BTW, the discs can start to degenerate at age 50, so keep emotional stress (cortisol levels) to a minimum and be mindful of unexplained muscle pulls. Also no workouts longer than 1 hour.

    I hope that gives you some direction.

    Dr. Stanley

    Reply

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  1. […] Why Your Balance Fails Part-1: how-to correct movement dysfunction from an early age, […]

  2. […] Why Your Balance Fails Part-1: how-to correct movement dysfunction from an early age, and […]

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