As we get older we tend to move less and sit more, which shortens the muscles in the front of the legs.
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As we’re sitting, the muscles in the front of the legs get more tight. What are these muscles? So, you can think of the rectus femoris that goes from the knee up to the hip. You can think of the iliopsoas complex which is the iliacus and psoas that basically go from the pelvis and go all the way up to about the beginning of where our ribs are. These muscles go very, very high up and up to our trunk. These are very powerful muscles.
These are the muscles that pull our trunk forward and also lift our legs up. You can also consider a muscle called the tensor fasciae which lifts our leg up and rotates it out, and that connects to the iliotibial band or IT band. You may have heard this when people talk about IT band syndrome.
All of these things are connected with the hip flexors that pull our trunk forward. This action can cause a number of problems. It pulls us forward, but then our head also goes forward. This can contribute to balance problems from the standpoint that if we’re being pulled forward, then our center of gravity shifts. And then, if we’re in a position where we’re knocked backward or we stand upright, people very commonly lose their balance going backward. Then, the question is, can they respond?
We see this with our clients all the time. Once we bring them up into a forward posture, they’re straight up and down. One of the first things that they’ll do is actually lose their balance going backward. So, I’m already prepared, and my arm is already there in response to my anticipation of their potential to be knocked backward. This is because I’m bringing them into a position they haven’t been in for a long time.
We’ve stretched out their hip flexors, maybe done a couple of other things, or possibly used some neurological magic technique to get them standing straight. Then all of a sudden, they’re going backward because they’re standing straight up and down for the first time in a long time.