The Egoscue Tower

Let’s talk about the tower.


Those clients of ours who have been given one of the Supine Groin ecises know that we are BIG fans of the tower. We came out with the tower as the new way to do all of the different versions of Supine Groin about 3 years or so ago and at the time, Pete said this represented a quantum improvement in how to perform these ecises. He was exactly right. The tower is a very valuable tool in realigning your posture.

If your question is, “what do these ecises do?”, that’s a great question but one that is really beyond the scope of this post to discuss. If you are a client at an Egoscue Clinic and would like to know more about this, ask your therapist and they will happily tell you all about it. The reason it’s hard to answer that succinctly in a general forum like this is that there are a number of different variations of this ecise, and there can be a number of reasons why we would give it to a client. Different forms of this ecise are used to help restore the normal S-curve to the spine, help normalize the position of the hip and pelvic girdle, take an upper body that is stuck in major flexion and begin bringing it back to a more extended position, and on it goes.

I was at a training event for Egoscue therapists about a year and a half ago and Brian Bradley, our director of therapy, made the comment that clients made their postural change permanent in the tower, that it was the Supine Groin ecises where the body learns how to make permanent the positional and functional changes introduced by the other ecises. I know that when I started as a client, Supine Groin Progressive was a HUGE part of my healing process, and it’s still something I do regularly on a maintenance basis today. The body just learns how to go back to neutral here.

I’ll have clients ask me why the tower is so much more effective than the old way we used to do it, which was to either have the foot on the ground, propped up with a block of some kind, or if we were doing Progressive, to use the old stair blocks like you see in the books. From my perspective, the tower does 3 things that the old methods did not do. If properly positioned and setup…..

1. the foot cannot evert, or point out to the side. The tower holds it perfectly straight. Even if the foot is propped up on the floor, it still tends to evert just a little.

2. The foot cannot supinate. This is where the foot twists such that your big toe moves closer to you and your little toe moves away from you. I have some clients with tremendous supination torque in their hips and without the tower, the foot would just twist away and absorb much of the work we want to be done by the hip and pelvic girdle. Even modest supination changes the work in the hips, so this is a very important point.

3. It holds the foot in mild dorsiflexion. This is where the foot is gently flexed back towards the shin. This causes an elongation or gentle stretch demand of the posterior muscles of the leg, which allows us to get work in the hip and pelvic girdle we wouldn’t otherwise get.

Bottom line: the tower gently but firmly insists upon the work we want the body to do and doesn’t let the body cheat out of the way the old methods permitted. This results in faster functional and positional change, better results in less time.

The towers aren’t cheap, they cost $129.95 from Therapy Zone, including shipping. But if your therapist recommends you get one, do it. I promise you, it will be a tool you will effectively use for the rest of your life. I used to use the old stair block, but after trying the tower, I gave my old block away and haven’t looked back. It’s a powerful tool in helping me stay functional, and it will help you, too!

if you need to buy one, or just want to take a closer look, you can see it at Therapy Zone here.

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16 Comments on “The Egoscue Tower”

  1. Brendan Says:

    I have just been given the tower to use by my therapist and have only used it once so far, but it really does making the Supine Groin stretches much easier to do, and in turn makes them more effective (as stated above). I will have it for two weeks and deopending on exactly how far I progress over that two weeks will consider purchase (and by the looks of things, I will be making that purchase).

  2. Charlie Says:

    Great article love the tower, plan to buy and/or make my own. Yeah!!

  3. Rick Says:

    Hi Charlie, definitely get one. One note on trying to make them, I’ve seen a lot of people try and only a couple who successfully replicated the functionality of the real deal. It is important that it hold your foot in EXACTLY the same position as the official tower or else you will not get the same benefit. Good luck!

  4. Hello,

    I am currently a client at the arlington virginia clinic and have been with the egoscue method since Feb. 1, 2009. It has been life changing for me and a day has not gone by that I have not done my ecises. I do have the tower and do this as often as my therapist tells me to, currently that is twice a week. However lately, I have been experiencing vertigo after being in the tower for approx. 10-15 minutes. My therapist suggested propping my head with the inflatable tubes but I still experience this vertigo. I have to have my head propped up on two pillows where my shoulders are somewhat lifted off the ground in order to not get the horrible head spins. My question is: 1. Will this vertigo ever stop or is this something I will have to live with due to the new body alignment. and 2. Does propping my head that much interfere with the benefits of the tower?
    I have asked some of these questions to my therapist and she has answered them, however, I feel I may be a nuisance at times with the same questions over and over so I am asking you. Also, this vertigo episode has really caused much anxiety for me and now I am afraid to lie flat on the floor for fear of the head spins.

    Please help! I love what the egoscue has done for me and don’t want to stop the tower or the floor ecises due to this vertigo issue.

    • Rick Says:

      Hi Mary Ann,

      First, Kristin, the clinic director at the Arlington clinic, is a good friend of mine and an awesome therapist. I can guarantee you that you are NOT being a nuisance asking about this, so definitely check back in with her with these questions. That’s my first piece of advice.

      Now, to answer your question questions: 1. No, this will not be permanent and yes, it WILL stop. I’m just guessing because I don’t know what you look like posturally but I’m guessing that your head is changing positions and right now you’re in a bit of a transition state. 2: Yes, propping the head up will alter the benefits of the tower and as soon as you’re comfortably able you will want to be able to get your head back on the ground.

      Call Kristin and talk with her, express the concerns you gave me here, and have her explain to you why she thinks this is happening to you. There’s a good chance that perhaps she can give you some exercises to do prior to getting into the tower that will help put your head into a better position where this issue starts to alleviate. I guarantee you she’ll want to help you with this, so don’t feel like you’re all on your own here. Share with her your fears about this, and your concerns and I promise she’s going to take great care of you.

      Please keep me posted, I’m looking forward to hearing a positive report shortly!

  5. Tom Says:

    I’ll try to keep this short. I have no tower so I try to do the stretch without elevation. But I have problems with exactly the three things you point out. As soon as I relax, the foot everts, supinate and lose the dorsiflexion.
    If I prop the foot on both sides it will not evert (even though I can feel strong pressure, both on the inside of heel and the outside of the foot), the supination is less, but can’t be avoided. And I feel the twist on the knee and ankle.
    Anyhow, the question is; should I force to foot to be as still as possible by propping, and the problems will get less with time, or should I use muscle to keep proper form?

    I live in Spain so unfortunately I can’t come and visit your clinic easily.

    • Rick Says:

      Hi Tom,

      first, thanks for reading, and for your comment and question, it’s a good one.

      You want to prop the foot as best you can, and you do NOT want to use muscular effort to maintain proper leg/foot position. Tightening up the muscles in the leg to do that will prevent the muscular release the ecise is designed to accomplish. In short, you wouldn’t be doing the ecise at all. You’d be doing something fundamentally different.

      I know that Egoscue will be coming out with a travel version of the tower hopefully some time this year, so perhaps that will be easier to ship to Europe. In the meantime, just do the best you can. You’re still getting great benefit from the ecise.

      and finally, if you ever wish to get a personalized evaluation and routine, you can still do Egoscue therapy even from Spain. We have clients all over the world who use our Skype therapy services to get the help they need. We have clients in Italy, France, Mexico and Scotland, for example, who do Skype therapy with us and it works beautifully. Feel free to email or call if you’d like more information about that.

      • Tom Says:

        Thanks a lot for the answer.
        I’ll try to prop the foot the best I can, and relax the leg entirely. it feels that for every time it’s easier to keep it in place. I also tried with a tower for CDs, and it works! It simulates the Egoscue tower, not in all aspects, but at least I can get the leg elevated. So I’ll continue with it.

        I’ll keep the Skype therapy in mind. It seems as a good otion; I do have some issues that world be nice to get professional advice on.

        Thanks again,

  6. ReneG Says:

    Well explained.

    Thanks You!!

  7. RoseLee Says:

    I’ve been doing this tower exercise for a while. The tower I bought came with double pedal, which gave you the option to do both legs at the same time, I’m wondering if it is as effective as the method shown in the book (one leg up on a chair, one leg on tower), or will it do any harm? I tried it a couple of times and it felt quite different.

    • Rick Says:

      Hi RoseLee…..yes, the double paddle version of the tower is a VERY different exercise than is the ‘one leg at a time’ version shown in the books. The question about when we’ll use one versus the other is a good one, and an active topic of discussion within the Egoscue therapist community. At our clinic in Austin, here’s when we’ll typically use one versus the other. For someone with low back pain, or the kind of posture shown in Pete’s first book known as ‘Condition 1’, this ecise is a very powerful tool. Where I see the double paddle version being most helpful is for ‘Condition 2’, which is where there’s a fundamental position difference between the left and right sides of the body. I see this as helpful especially for people where the hips are in significantly different positions.

      So, feel free to play with it. It absolutely won’t cause any harm. If you start to feel pain or discomfort, just come out of it. Now, when you’re doing the single paddle version, don’t drop from one level to the next until your low back settles into the floor. The same applies to the double paddle, but additionally, if you start to feel an ache in either your hips or your mid back, that’s actually a good thing and is telling us we’re getting a constructive position change.

      If you have further questions, feel free to email us at the Austin Egoscue clinic, we’re happy to help!

      • RoseLee Says:

        Well explained! Thanks a lot Rick!

      • Says:

        This is the only published discussion I could find on the double-paddle version. Thank you.

        FYI, I used the double paddle exclusively for several weeks but now alternate nights with the single version — easier to sleep on, and the next day use, one of my shoulders.

        In other words, I can see and feel your “constructive position change” but it isn’t always or initially pleasant after decades of dysfunction/compensation.

  8. Viviana Says:

    I’ve ordered multi-positioning towers for my clients both from TherapyZone and Crooked Human and I have to say that the equipment from Crooked Human is far more sturdy/solid and of higher quality wood–it’s more expensive, but you get what you pay for. My two cents.

    • Rick Says:

      I agree. Therapy Zone endeavored to change the design to make the product less expensive, but in doing so has changed it in a way that seems to make it less solid and stable. Now, that said, we had one of each in our inventory and a client chose the therapy zone tower because of the cross bar at the top, he felt it made the product more stable.

      In our clinic, we are now purchasing towers in bulk from Egoscue University. They are similar to Crooked Human’s, but a bit more solid than theirs.

  9. dsacjr Says:

    UPDATE: have been forced to suspend use of this version entirely.

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