The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet

by Stephen

Sadly, I had not read the reversing injuries chapter of The 4-Hour Body until last night. I say sadly because as a family practitioner I treat several people a day for these types of injuries. Most people want a quick fix so they come to me looking for medications that will mask their pain. Many have been in chronic pain for years and have had several rounds of physical therapy and frustration with a healthcare system that has often left them worse off than when they began.  I find most of the time the medication approach doesn’t work, especially for people experiencing chronic pain.  That is why I was pleasantly surprised to find this chapter in Tim’s book. Also, most people aren’t aware that there are other options to treating their pain that may be more effective.

My personal opinion is these methods would be quite effective for alleviating much of the pain that we deal with on a day to day basis. Tim’s #1 recommendation from the book (barefoot running) is something I have been doing for over a year now. I had suffered from low back pain and tight hip flexors that at one time had me out of commission for 4 months. It was at this moment that I understood the meaning of pain and also frustration because no matter what I did the pain remained. I found a good physical therapist which helped some as he pointed out the problem, but it was through self designed gym workouts that were serendipitously the right ones (working out opposing muscle groups) and a change to minimalist shoes (also a happy accident) which solved most of the problem. I wish I had had some of the techniques listed below at the time of my injury, I think these would have helped quite a bit.

What saddens me most is watching people give up on performing the activities they love the most because of pain. Or (in the realm of back pain) being convinced through MRI’s and specialist evaluations that they have a disk problem; which most often they don’t.

Some of these methods featured in the 4-Hour Body are pricey which definitely limits them to a select few. But, considering what most of us are required to pay in co-pays and deductibles it could be worth the cost and actually save you money. The following method, the Egoscue (pronounced “Eg-os-cue,” not “Ego-scue”) is intriguing.

According to Tim: “Peter Egoscue is the founder of the Egoscue Method, a postural therapy program with 24 clinics worldwide. Peter is a former marine and self-taught therapist who became famous through experimentation on himself and athletes.”

His method makes sense to me. I would suggest you read the reversing injuries chapter in the book and use this as a portable reference. I have included a cheat sheet that you can download or print that would be useful as you attempt these movements.

According to Tim:

Based on several months of testing myself and other laptop hunchers, I can recommend six 80/20 exercises for desk-dwellers’ postural imbalances. For the minimalists who work at home (or who have understanding coworkers), I suggest performing #1, #2, and #3 after every two or three hours at a desk or in a sitting position and performing all five movements at least once per week.

The supine groin progressive, the most inconvenient, unusual, and time-consuming of the five, is the singular most effective tool I’ve found for eliminating psoas and other hip flexor tightness to unlock the pelvis and relieve hamstring tightness.

I. Static Back Sets 1 | Reps 1 | Duration 0:05:00

 

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Description

  1. Lie on your back with your legs up over a block or chair.
  2. Place your arms out to the sides at approximately 45 degrees from your body with palms up. Touch your thumbs to the floor.
  3. Relax your upper back and ensure your lower back flattens to the floor evenly from left to right.
  4. Hold this position for five minutes.

II. Static Extension Position on Elbows Sets 1 | Reps 1 | Duration 0:01:00

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Description

  1. Start on the floor on your hands and knees, ensuring your higher joints are aligned (i.e., shoulders, elbows, and wrists in a straight line; hips directly above the knees).
  2. Walk your hands forward about six inches, and then, noting placement of the hands, replace them with your elbows.
  3. Make a light fist of each hand and pull them away from each other, pivoting on your elbows and turning the thumbs out.
  4. Push your hips backward toward your heels to place an arch in your lower back.
  5. Let your head drop down.
  6. Hold for 60 seconds.

III. Shoulder Bridge with Pillow Sets 1 | Reps 1 | Duration 0:01:00

 

10 27 2011 10 37 27 PM thumb The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet

Description

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet pointed straight ahead.
  2. Place a pillow between your knees and apply a constant pressure inward while executing the exercise.
  3. Relax your upper body and lift your hips and back up off the floor.
  4. Hold in top position for one minute.

IV. Active Bridges with Pillow Sets 3 | Reps 15 |

 

10 27 2011 10 41 19 PM thumb The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet

Description

  1. Follow the instructions for the last exercise, but, instead of holding at the top of the movement, lift your hips as high as you can and slowly lower them back down. Keep the motion as smooth and continuous as possible.
  2. Repeat 15 times for three total sets.

V. Supine Groin Progressive in Tower Duration 25 minutes each side

10 27 2011 10 47 00 PM thumb The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet

Description

  1. Lie on the floor with one leg up over a block or chair, bent to 90 degrees (in the illustration, the right leg). Your arms should be out to your sides at 45 degrees, with palms facing up.
  2. Place the other foot in the boot used with the tower.
  3. Place your booted foot on the tower, starting at the lowest level and moving it up until an arch begins to form in your lower back. This is the level where you will complete your first 5 minutes.
  4. Hold until your back is flat on the floor. Pay more attention to the flattening of your back than the specified time.
  5. After 5 minutes, lower your foot one level on the tower and again hold.
  6. Continue this until your leg is extended straight out on the lowest level.
  7. Switch legs and repeat the entire sequence.

Va. Alternative: Supine Groin on Chair

This is a far inferior version of the supine groin progressive, as it’s not progressive, but it’s more convenient.

10 27 2011 10 50 31 PM thumb The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet

Description

  1. Tie a sweatshirt or pair of sweatpants around a chair or door knob.
  2. Set a small chair or table, approximately knee height, next to the set-up from step 1.
  3. Suspend the heel of one leg in the sweatshirt or sweatpants and rest the other leg on the chair or table. Hold for 10 minutes.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.

VI. Air Bench Sets 1 | Reps 1 | Duration 0:02:00

 

10 27 2011 10 54 29 PM thumb The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet

Description

  1. Stand with your back against a wall with feet and knees hip width apart. Feet point straight ahead.
  2. Walk your feet away from the wall while sliding your body down at the same time until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Ensure your ankles are slightly ahead of your knees. Your lower back should be completely flat against the wall. Your arms can hang down to your sides, or you can rest your hands gently on your lap. Keep the weight in your heels and do not press forward on your toes.
  3. Hold for two minutes.

Resources:

 

adobe pdf The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat SheetScribd icon 4 hour body cheat sheet The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat SheetDownload:
Egoscue Method Cheat Sheet (PDF) (Scribd)

Note: This information is meant to supplement The 4-Hour Body The 4 Hour Body Reversing Injuries: The Egoscue Method + Cheat Sheet. It is full of wonderful information that you can only find in the BOOK. It is definitely worth the $15.95 price tag and then some.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Mathes October 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

Hi, great article. I’m the clinic director of the Egoscue Clinic in Austin, TX. We’re big fans of this book and we put together a video demonstrating how to do each of the Egoscue ecises Tim shows in the book. There are subtle nuances to each that make a big difference in the results one obtains from doing them and we wanted to help people get the most out of the time the invest in performing them. Here’s the video, hope some of you find it helpful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRPA_O_fvXY

Reply

Stephen October 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Thanks Rick,

I am fascinated by this technique and want to recommend it to my patients. Unfortunately most do not have access to a clinic (or funds) where they can properly learn these techniques. Do you think it is possible to get a hang of this on your own with a book, or is it something that is really impossible to do correctly without the assistance of a certified professional for the first few times? Does medical insurance cover these types of therapies?

Reply

Matt Hsu September 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Hi Stephen,

Even when folks are out of geographical range of a clinic, they can see Egoscue affiliates or clinic staff online via skype. The books out there can be helpful but it’s not quite like having someone there to help assess and correct things with you. Medical insurance doesn’t typically cover this type of corrective exercise, but some HSAs and flex spending programs do.

Hope that helps you and some of your patients!

Matt Hsu, Rolfer™, Egoscue certified Posture Alignment Specialist, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

Reply

Stephen September 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Absolutely Matt, Would love to come for a session if you ever have the time. Many people email me about Egoscue. It would be fun to put together a more in-depth demonstration to expand upon the book. Thanks for the response.

Stephen

Reply

Matt Hsu September 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Hi Stephen,

Would love to do a demo if you happen to be in the area. Are you in San Diego?

Reply

Stephen September 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I live in Santa Cruz CA, but sometimes make my way down to San Diego.

If you are at all interested in expanding on the Egoscue chapter of the 4 Hour Body in a post, I will be happy to feature you and your services, and link to your site. Let me know. As I said there are a lot of people looking for more information and I would love to be able to direct people to a good resource!

Stephen

Reply

Matt Hsu September 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

When you do come on down to San Diego, let me know! I’m always happy to help people better understand what a difference proper muscle balance can make to their lives!

Reply

Matt March 1, 2013 at 10:11 am

Hi Stephen,

Please shoot me an email!

Reply

Kerstin Rumar October 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I have been doing the 4 hip exercises for over 2 months. Much more limber but with lots of pain going from one part of the body to the next.
Hips are very stiff and so r the hamstrings. Any advice. K

Reply

John Cattermole November 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Kerstin,

Glad to hear your body is changing.
Are you doing the Supine Groin Stretch for the full time directed (the full 15 minutes per side) in the book? Let me know and we’ll be glad to help give you some suggestions.

Reply

Richard March 18, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I’ve been trying the Egoscue method but the one exercise I’m struggling with is the supine groin stretch. Whilst I do suffer from bad outer hip and buttock pain I feel I get nothing out of the groin stretch (when I’m in the position I feel no tension, no stretch, anything). I’m not sure exactly what I’m meant to be stretching or releasing. I have mainly been doing the Progressive stretch (on a homemade rig set up with three different heights), holding each level for five minutes. It feels a bit demotivating as the stretch is taking me so long for little results.

Also, there are three of the groin stretches mentioned in Pain Free (with towel, without and the progressive). Do they achieve different things, and are there any easier alternatives to realign the hips if these aren’t working?

Reply

Stephen March 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Hi Richard, I wish I could be of more help regarding Egoscue but I am hardly and expert. I would recommend asking the same question of Matt Hsu matt@uprighthealth.com. He runs an Egoscue center in San Diego, CA and is very knowledgeable. He should be able to give you some very good advice.

Hope this helps,

Stephen

Reply

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