What exercise can you do for an abductory twist?
Posted: Feb 01, 2021
Are there any exercises that can be done to help an abductory twist? The answer to that question will depend on just what you think an abductory twist is. There certainly is plenty of confusion. There are no exercises that can help a true abductory twist. There are two things which get the label of an abductory twist. One is that when the heel comes slightly of the ground, there is a sudden, rapid and short movement of the heel inwards. It can often be hard to see. There are many different causes of this, but the most common are an overpronation of the foot or what is called a functional hallux limitus. There are no exercises that can be done to help that. There are other types of treatment that can be done to help it.
The other thing that gets labeled an abductory twist when running is after the foot has left the ground and the foot moves around in a circumduction or towards the outside as the foot moves forward during the swing phase of gait. This really should get called a medial heel whip and not an abductory twist, but it does get widely called that. There is really no relationship between the two and they should probably not be given the same name as this does lead to a lot of confusion. This medial heel whip type of motion can sometimes be helped with exercises. The cause if this motion is typically related to movement of the hip, the flexibility of the muscles and tendons around the hip and the strength of those muscles and the motor control of those muscles.
If you have something that looks like the medial heel whip, then you need to have a health professional assess you to look for asymmetries in the hip, pelvis and core, especially if the problem is only on one side. All the muscles needed to be checked for any tightness or weakness. A thorough gait analysis will be helpful at determining exactly where the problem is coming from. From that assessment some exercises can be advised and also the runner could be given some cues to use when running to help them change the way that they run.
Some of the exercises that often get prescribed for this include lunges, especially done with a weight and done slowly with a good technique. Single leg squats while holding hand weights can also help improve the motor control of the lower limb. Lateral band walks are also often used to help runners improve their running technique. With this exercise a large elastic type band is placed around the ankles and the runner walks sideways by spreading the legs and working the hip muscles. Other exercises can also be prescribed depending on the exact nature of any deficits that the assessment identified.
Most importantly if you are reading or listening to someone talk about this make sure if they are talking about a true abductory twist or the medial heel whip that too many label as an abductory twist.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.