The Anatomy of Directing: Leg Spiral Exercise


Part 9.5: One Last Little Exercise on the Leg Spirals

In our last Anatomy of Directing post, we walked through a few simple knee directing exercises. We also spoke about the leg spirals, and this week, we’d like mention focus on the spirals specifically, and add one additional exercise that accesses the spirals. We saw in our original post on the knees and leg spirals, that there is an outer and inner spiral, both of which get tightened. When we tighten the outer spiral, we tend to rotate the legs outward and pull the knees apart. If you sit in a chair, you might notice  in this position that your knees want to pull outward, which is caused in general by the overtightening of the quadriceps muscles and the IT band, as well as the glutes around the hip, all of which form this outer spiral.

We tighten the inner spiral by shortening the muscles of the inner thigh and hamstrings, which pulls the knees together–a tendency which is noticeable when we draw the knees together in the process of sitting and standing. To work with the two spirals, try the following.

  1. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back supported. Ask for length from the iliac crest or hip bone to the top of your knee. This will start to undo the outer spiral and send the knees forward from the hips.
  2. To affect the inner spiral, ask for length from your sit bones (ischial tuberosities) and pubic bones to the insides of the knees (medial condyles of the tibia and femur).  This will encourage the adductors and inner hamstrings to release, undoing the inner spiral and allowing the knees to go away from each other.
  3. Try giving each of these direction separately first, and then put them together to get a clear sense of what it means to direct your knees forward and away.

As part of the Da Vinci project, the Dimon Institute will present a whole series dedicated to spirals in the body later on in the year. We hope you’ll stay tuned for that. In the next week or so, we’ll publish a final post with the entire Anatomy of Directing series in one place, that you can download.