Your Hamstrings Belong to Your Front Body

By Dominika Borovansky Gaines

Having recently returned from the Muscles and Meridians workshop with Dr. Phillip Beach,, an Osteopath and Licensed Acupuncturist from New Zealand, I am experimenting with various bits of new information that resonated with me. I am most intrigued by the fact that during embryological development the limbs buds spiral as they grow.

Early in our development, we are brain, heart and spine. As the fetus develops, the arms encircle the heart (which shrinks in size) and then cross to close in external rotation. Meanwhile the legs begin open in external rotation and then fold in to 90 degress of internal rotation. According to Beach, the tissues of the back of the legs–hamstrings and calves–are part of the ventral/front body while the quads are part of the dorsal/back body, deriving from the glutes and lower back. Since the quads are required for the force- generating movements of traveling uphill or climbing stairs, it makes sense that they belong to the power muscle groups of the glutes and our adductors and medial hamstrings innervate in to our pelvic floor and become contiguous with our lower belly. (Here is another article with nice illustrations Development of the Lower Limb2.pdf)

So, the legs SPIRAL out of the pelvis creating a Figure 8 with the torso, a familiar idea to those with GYROTONIC® experience.


With this concept, the movement of the legs in GYROTONIC methodology takes on a whole new feeling. I’ve personally understood for quite some time the nutation and counter-nutation of the sacrum and the function and coordination of the legs in this motion as they externally and internally rotate. But thinking of the hamstrings as belonging to the lower belly softens this movement and creates an even more reflex-driven movement.

I have experimented with cueing this concept in two ways. The first is to simply think of the back of the legs as connected to your front as you walk. I also experimented with this idea in simple curl-ups: think of the hamstrings as belonging to the front of the body as you roll up. Instead of the bracing, there is a feeling of em-bracing, of hollowing. One client remarked, ” That was the most wonderful image! That was the best roll up I have ever done!”

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