Right now, I’m pelvis obsessed.
My pelvis is top of mind lately whenever I’m walking, sitting or standing – all because I’ve lost neutral. This is no small problem in the world of healthful posture; I’m driving my awareness into the complicated parking lot of my pelvic alignment to reteach myself the natural curves of my spine in hope of avoiding the congestion, read PAIN, in the low back from which more than 70% of Americans suffer from at some point during our lives.
In my case, I plunge my pelvis forward and point the bony structures at the base of my pelvis (ishial tuberosties) toward the space in front of my feet, instead of directing them toward my heels. This is a very common misalignment in our siting culture, made up in large number of folks that further compound the problem by sitting way too much, as well as sitting poorly. We all get very accustomed to the sensation of rolling the bottom of the pelvis under us and sitting too far back on the meat of our bottoms, carrying this position into how we move around the world. This familiarity can play games with perception as well, allowing this misalignment to sneak below your awareness like the background noise in a coffee shop, ever present but unsensed. This habit has some significant consequences, none of which include a healthy low back.
Mary Bond shares in her very compelling book, The New Rules of Posture, that “sitting or standing with a backward pelvic tilt for extended periods of time puts uneven pressure on the lumbar disks, unduly stretches the sacroiliac joints, stresses spinal muscles and compromises the curves of the upper spine and neck.” (p. 62). These are far-flung results of tilting the pelvis toward the back plane of your body – all the way up to the curve of your neck and impacting the stability of the house for your nervous system: your whole spine. Pretty heavy fallout from a potentially unnoticed postural habit.
When the pelvis tilts posteriorly, the head of the femur bone (the big thigh bone) nestles itself into the front curve of your hip socket, often turning your toes out to the sides, collapsing the chest and pushing your head forward. This stance slackens the buttock muscles and shortens the external rotator muscles that live beneath your gluteus maximus muscle, resulting in a sacroiliac joint that can become unstable. As Jill Miller points out in her book, The Roll Model A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body, the sacrum is the “baseboard for your entire spine” (p.85). Who would build a wall above an unstable, tilted baseboard and expect it to withstand the challenges of the external elements? How can you or I expect a tilted sacrum to buttress the spine for the challenges of modern living?
In order to confront the complications of this habit, you must create an understanding of pelvic neutral, discover actions that peel the head of the thigh bone away from the front of the hip socket, and then adopt this stance to provide a foundation for the lift of your spine into its natural curves to sustain mobility throughout your life.
My pelvis obsession has helped me along the path to pelvic neutral and opened up the lanes of congestion or traffic at my sacroiliac joint.
Tune in later this week for a video tip on retraining understanding of where your femur bone points in your hip socket and how that can help you discover pelvic neutral for a baseboard that can bear the many encounters of a busy, mobile spine!