T Nation

Structural Balance

Does anybody know how to assess strength ratios between between the hip flexors and extensors, and between the abdominals and the low back?

The most basic way is to look at the pelvis. If there is straight with no tipping either way then things are good. Since I am a Rolfer that is what I look for.

There is an Iron dog column by alesi with all the ratios, and tsatsuline says that lower back should be 4 times stronger then the hip flexors IN TERMS OF CONCENTRIC AND ISOMETRIC strength.


good question and answers! I have a question along these same lines for those in the know. What might the postural/sctructural/gait consequences or patterns tend to be for one who has lengthened hamstrings and tight quadriceps?


From what I understand this leads to a lot of the lower back problems people experience. Particularly, the hip-flexors pulling the anterior of the hip girdle downwards, which creates an imbalance and distorts the natural alignment of the spine. This also tends to manifest itself in eversion of the feet, which over time will lead to unbalanced development in the calves and upper legs.

If you watch some people run, you’ll notice that they don’t have a footstrike/gait pattern that functions efficiently, their foot, when it lands, splays outwards from their center and when they pick up their leg, it is more of a whipping around than straight ahead type of stride, in a way they are speed-waddling - only not as pronounced.

Structurally, this leads to a lot of problems over time, as one part of the leg compensates for the imbalance, while the other remains understimulated.

Egoscue has a couple books about the significance of these imbalances and their consequences on sporting activities as well as everyday life.

From my own experience in trying to deal with this problem, it makes all activities much more difficult, running on hard surfaces has a worse impact, it drastically limits any type of squatting, and gives more of an appearance of having a ‘gut,’ as the front is pulled downwards.

Hope some of this was useful,


If I could pick up on something you said, Franks:
What exactly are you saying about waddling feet?

My feet point outwards about 45 degrees, and always have. Is this posturally incorrect or dangerous? Or are some people just built that way?

I know what you mean about splaying feet when running, I’ve seen in it loads of people, though I don’t have that problem, or any problems with squatting etc.

Postslade-I believe that it was Louie Simmons who mentioned in an article that if your feet splayed outward, it was a sign of weak hamstrings. I have no idea as to the reason behind this statement, but once I began to really concentrate on my hamstrings, I noticed that my feet pointed almost straight ahead. I still wasn’t sure, so I had my girls start working their hamstrings too, and their foot positions began to change as well.

Greenslade -

Does your pelvis tilt downwards at all when you stand relaxed? Thats usually the main giveaway for a lot of bad hip-flexor issues.

Before I open up my mouth regarding this, I should preface it by saying
I’m not trained in postural anatomy and can only speak from my own personal experience as well as reading and consultations with rolfers and the like.

I don’t believe that the foot is meant to point outwards at a 45 degree angle in anyone. It does not seem to be concurrent with the basic design of the human body. I know that people want to believe that ‘we’re all different shapes and sizes’ but our bones and the structure of our skeletons really is a genius of a system for balancing. If you look at how the body compensates for people who slouch forwards, its a case in point example of trying to keep the body in balance by adjusting other parts.

Yes, a lot of athletes and others have everted feet and possibly tilted pelvises. Is this natural or is it from a more sedentary lifestyle? While they still may be great athletes, is it possible that they could be better if their ‘stuff’ was aligned?

From what I understand, the presence of everted feet and anterior pelvic rotation is a phenomenon much more common in highly-developed (read: less physically-active) nations, and was much less common 100 years ago.
Unlike a lot of maladies, I’m not going to blame this one on monsanto - I think its just a question of using the body according to its general design, which though capable of curving, is built off of a system of right angles (in an abstraction of sorts).

That you have no problems squatting is interesting to me but I have so many problems squatting that I cannot possibly assess that factor in your personal situation. What type of levers do you possess? How does your squat compare to other ‘big lifts’? When you squat below parallel, is your torso still fairly upright or is it leaning past 45+ degrees?