Tuning Down on Three Legs

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On Wednesday, we explored the first part of the sequence I’ve been using to aide in my recovery from bunion surgery. Today, we continue with some tips for hips, hanging out, and sleeping.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Massage your glutes and free your hips!

Massage your glutes and free your hips!

Recline and place an original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball between the meatiest part of your buttocks and the floor. Enjoy several deep breaths allowing sustained compression into the muscles. Then, rhythmically, contract and relax your gluteal muscles several times. Remove the ball from the left side and begin to cross fiber the right gluteal muscles by shifting the lower body side to side and rolling the ball between the sacrum and greater trochanter; the “ball” at the top of the leg bone. After several passes, begin to circle the greater trochanter with the ball. Be creative! Move and support your body in any way to experience a yummy massage of the multiple ligaments and tendons in this space. Reverse direction and rest on any blind spots facilitating release.

Hanging Around

As I mentioned, I was hanging this morning. Upper body strength is a critical part of maintaining overall fitness, preventing pain, and improving performance especially when crutch-walking. (Special note: “Performance,” in this case, is not a triathlon or marathon competition, but best possible movement ‘performance’ throughout the day). By simply hanging from the bar I allow my spine the delicious treat of off-weighting my vertebral column. Simultaneously, I consciously stablize my scapulothoracic joint (shoulder girdle) and torso while also activating all of the muscles required to actually do a pull-up. That’s a lot of muscles, including, but in no way limited to; middle and lower trapezius, rhomboids, pectoralis major and minor, deltoids, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi, teres major, subscapularis, erector spinae, external obliques and multiple arm and hand muscles. Because this is an attempt at a “pull” movement and crutch use, by contrast, is a “push” movement, they somehow compliment each other, even though each is not an actual ‘exercise’. I have not experienced any pain/discomfort in my shoulders, arms, upper back, or hands since the surgery!

Sleeping Like a Boss

One final aspect of my many weeks of recovery has included consideration of my sleeping posture. Because I basically have a push-pin jutting out from my toe, I am painfully careful NOT to catch it on something…like a sheet! (Ouch!) As well, post-op, my regular, consistent exercise came to an abrupt halt which unfavorably affects my sleep. In the Gokhale Method, Esther Gokhale L. Ac. explains stretchlying on your back as an optimal sleep posture to decompress spinal discs and nerves, improve circulation around the spine, reset the resting length of the back muscles, and improve breathing pattern. It improves the quality of our sleep while eliminating or preventing pain. Using one crutch creates some discomfort, especially on my right (crutch) side. I do all that I can striving to reduce discomfort precipitated by unsymmetrical walking.

Each morning, I do a head to toe inventory assessing how my physical body feels. Always initiating my movement session with deep breathing, I begin to move with the intention of regaining a bit of symmetry for another day of boot and crutch walking. The exercises/movements I have shared here feel supportive and work!

Enjoyed this article? Read Bunions and More
Lisa Federico

Lisa Federico, MA, is a Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 teacher, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, RYT-200 teacher, and Institute for Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Lisa emphatically shares her passion for movement with her students. In class, she speaks the language of anatomy and kinesiology, bolstering her participants awareness of their own bodies. She remains an eager student, herself, digging into the complexities of the human body and its phenomenal capabilities. Sidestepping spinal surgery in 2008, Lisa unearthed her path to completing her first full Ironman in 2014. Daily, consistent , intentional movement applied to the body you know so well...your own...will compel you to live a robust, expansive life. Lisa inspires her students to embrace their body, mind and spirit...to self-explore and savor the ride!

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Queen Sheba

Oh this was great to read, I never knew hanging upside does so much for you and now I know why I was so strong in those areas when I was younger. Also I would say sleeping on your back is wonderful, probably why Savasana is so incredible. Thanks for sharing this wealth of knowledge. Also reading about the glute relief made me feel like oh this is going to be  bomb when I get the chance. 

Kristin Harris

I really appreciated ways of moving after bunion surgery. I’ve had a few lower limb injuries and surrendered to doing nothing. In retrospect I see how the advice you give in your article to roll using Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls and to also hang from a bar could have been so helpful to me! Your ingenuity to find exercises you can do in the moment you find yourself in is so valuable. My mind often falls into how I cannot do my usual routine and so I then resort to doing nothing. I am grateful for your input and… Read more »

Karen McGovern

I think the idea of hanging from a bar to stretch the whole body is not just good for someone recovering from a foot or leg issue. I think I could benefit everyone. Love the idea. I plan to start hanging around. My shoulder, back, and abdominal groups need the stretch!

jan hollander

I started to read this article as research/presentation for my practice presentation we have to do on day 6of the ytu teacher trainer course but came across sleep stretching which intrigues me so going to explore that thanks for learning about new things

Rianna Reid

Bunion surgery sounds intense, I hope you are feeling better! How wonderful that you are using it as a gift to learn more about self-recovery with balls and other YTU therapies.

Jennifer Mayer

While I feel lucky to not be plagued with bunions, I am plagued by insomnia. I used to be a fetal position sleeper, but have found that I can reach optimal relaxation to drip lightly to sleep by lying supine. ZZZZZZZZZ


Wow! Thank you for this sequence. I am very familiar with the rolling technique yet I forget to compliment this work with other exercises. I LOVE the Gokhale Method of stretchlying. I can’t wait to try it out tonight. I sometimes wake up with a numb hand due to how I slept. This optimal sleep posture that will decompress spinal discs and nerves and improve circulation around the spine, and most likely keep me in this same sleep position will do me wonders. I can’t wait!


I took a long walk today and now my glutes are feeling tight! I also typically sit most of the day working at a desk. I am going to try this sequence before bed tonight. I find your suggestion for a daily inventory assessment helpful; I often only listen to the areas that are calling to me.


Lisa – This was a very helpful for my glutes and hips. I am a runner and I unfortunately sit a lot during the day which makes my hips and glute both sore and tight. I find these types of yoga tune up exercises to be very helpful and relaxing (after I finish of cource). Thanks for the info!

Kate Laird

You are so right about the hanging, that is a key ingredient missing in most fitness routines !


The hip release is great! Did it a little early and added some prolonged buttock holds to dig deeper into the muscle! rolling it to the outer part of the butt and lower before the thigh feels great as well!


I really like the Hip release tips!! Rolling the ball from point to point and connecting with the sacrum as you switch sides feels amazing. Taking the ball to the lower and outer parts of the buttock feels really great as well. Thanks!


Hi Lisa,
thank you for sharing. The part when you talked about hanging, as a way to decompress the spine is just genius. I will try it for sure! Sometimes, when we lack in upper body strength, we dont think about theses kind of exercices (for example myself, because i can’t do pull up) but just the position of pulling is something that i will do on a regular basis.

Siewli Stark

After doing this glut max and med release on the right side, my entire right side felt more alive yet relaxed. Tension headache is gone! I find it easier to circle the greater trochanter on the wall then floor, but alpha ball on floor with glut max and med is AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing!

Cecile Bott

Hi Lisa,
Thank you for this posting and especially the tip on Esther Gokhale’s technique of stretchlying. I am very familiar with constructive rest, although, stretchlying seems a more comfortable and plausible position for the purpose of sleep. This method might prove useful for people convalescing from various other surgeries and fractures as well, at least those involving the extremities. Best wishes for your continued recovery.

Josiane O'Rourke

Hi, Lisa. Thank you for sharing your experience. I do have bunions myself and I was thinking of getting the surgery. I’m happy to know that Yoga Tune Up also offers tools for to make post-op life a bit easier. I am definitely going to make stretchlying a part of my sleeping routine as well, and no need to wait for the surgery for that one! 😉

Claudia Jasper

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for the post. I tried the Tune up ball exerisise you suggested and it worked. I sometimes get very achey in this area due to sitting at a desk all day and found this worked like a charm. I also find that the tune up ball works wonders on my palms, due to the amount of typing I do in a day at work.

Keep up the good suggestions.