How I Became a Certified Rolfer™ Part 2 (Gaining Knowledge)

Read Part 1 of this 4 part series.

It’s taken most of my life to understand the structural issues that are going on in my body. I can’t remember ever speaking with a professional who explained to me what was happening in the bones and joints of my legs. It’s not such a simple thing having a toe-in gait pattern.

Foot and Ankle Pain by Rene CaillietThe first source I discovered that explained the pattern in more detail is an excellent little book by Rene Cailliet, MD titled Foot and Ankle Pain. In 2002, while browsing through the bookshelf of a colleague, I spotted the book and inside I found a wonderful little drawing labeled “orthotic twisters.” It was the first drawing I’d ever seen of my braces. It explained that twister cables were coiled springs within a cable housing that resists torque. Through adjustment of these springs the foot can be made to turn in or out and thus hopefully control and retrain the movements of the legs.

I went on to read that intoeing can result from excessive internal rotation of the femur and/or from marked internal tibial torsion. Cailliet also stated that techniques for measuring femoral torsion presented “radiologic difficulties” and had not yet been standardized. Apparently there wouldn’t be any medical testing to answer my questions. I’d need to figure this out on my own.

I sat down on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me and began to look. I noticed that when I pointed my toes straight up to the sky my right knee also pointed straight up, but my left knee pointed towards the left. I was also aware of a lot of muscular effort happening around my left hip joint. What was going on? I started to allow my left foot to rotate in. I rotated it in until the strain in my hip muscles relaxed and my kneecap pointed straight to the sky. Now my left foot was pointing towards my right. Aha, I thought, so I have an internal tibial torsion!

I then started to explore the range of motion in my hips. My right leg had much more external rotation than my left; my left leg had much more internal rotation than my right. As far as I’ve been able to figure out I most likely have a femoral torsion in my left leg in addition to the tibial torsion. I also suspect there is some modeling of my actual hip joint and the associated ligaments that is congenital and some that was patterned into my body while I was growing and walking in the toe-in pattern. I believe it shaped the structure of my hip joint much like a tree can be shaped by the wind constantly blowing against it from one direction.

I found some additional resources on the internet about femoral and tibial torsion that have been very helpful to me in my explorations. It is my hope that through writing about my own experience I can help others to better understand their own structural challenges.

Continue to Part 3 After The Braces Came Off

© Carole LaRochelle, 2009.


  1. I think it’s a beautiful thing to share your story- your willingness to expose your childhood hardships- imagining how painful it must have been to be the “different” one growing up- and the teased one. I think there are many of us who suffered so in our childhoods- in our different ways- some of us with physical challenges exposed to the world and others – like me- crippled on the inside by parental neglect and abuse.

    It’s an interesting thing learning how the physical challenges totally effect our emotional and mental well being- and vice versa- seeing how emotional and psychological traumas effect the physical body- the inside and outside being so intrinsically and undeniably interconnected.

    You have so much information and wisdom to share from your own story. You remind me that I have so much to share from my own story of childhood trauma as well. You inspire me – in reading your blog- to be even more courageous in sharing the truth about my own hardships in life- exposing my truths- my weaknesses – daring to be seen for who I really am. I honor the idea of allowing ourselves to be truly witnessed- for all our fears and shortcomings – as well as our triumphs- to be validated as the individuals we are- the humans that we are. (That’s living!)

    The most inspiring part of your story for me is how you so thoroughly committed yourself to learn as much about why your feet turned inwards as possible and how you’ve allowed yourself to take action to help yourself instead of feeling victimized for a lifetime- through learning and listening to your body and trusting yourself to identify your physical truths- you’ve become so accepting, and eventually even thriving, in your very own body and mind- thriving in your existence! Now that is cool!

    Thanks for sharing- KEEP sharing! Keep inspiring!

    • Wow!!! How can I respond? Yes we really are one bodymind. The dualism that started with Descartes, that the body is some “thing” loosely inhabited by a soul may have outlived its usefulness. Thank you for reading and for sharing some of your story.

  2. When I was younger, I had to wear a brace on my feet. It has never been explained to me, because my mother likes to say I’m a hypochondriac, but I’ve always known something was weird. I also have scoliosis, and I’ve always thought these problems were connected, since I was premature. I’m very slim, so it’s very obvious that both of my knees point inward. I’ve done my research, and I’ve discovered that in my case, if at all, it’s not threatening to my health. I just read this, and it reminded me a lot of myself, and how I was curious to find out what was different. Anyways, I think there’s a lot of helpful details in your blog.

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