Perhaps you have heard the term ‘neutral pelvis’, but what does that mean and why does it matter?
Neutral pelvis is like the Goldilocks of posture cues because it refers to when your pelvis is not too arched and not too tucked… it’s got to be ‘just right’. The time spent establishing a neutral pelvis is wisely invested because it will improve your posture, help relieve pain, and improve your ability to tone your tush.
Posterior pelvic tilt, or tucking the tailbone, impacts overall posture. As the butt tucks under, the torso leans back to compensate for the change in center of gravity. This typically results in a chain reaction with shoulders rounding forward, chin jutting up, and feet turning out. These postural implications may lead to associated pain…. jutted chin=neck pain, rounded shoulders=upper back pain, legs turn out=knee pain, tucked tail=sciatic/low back/hip pain.
Anterior pelvic tilt also impacts posture as it typically results in ribcage moving forward rather than aligning over your hips. Once again, the center of gravity changes causing a chain reaction of compensations to keep you from falling.
Whether tilted or tucked, it is likely the glutes are weak. The glute muscles cannot be effectively engaged without neutral pelvis so legs and/or back tend to take over to do the work.
Try it… stand up, stick you butt out, and try to squeeze your cheeks. Now jog or lift something and notice what you feel. Is your butt doing any work or did some other body part come to the rescue? Conversely, do the butt tuck cheek squeeze while jogging and lifting. You may feel more glute recruitment but think back to the effect on posture and resultant pain.
Ok so how do you achieve neutral pelvis?
One way to find neutral pelvic alignment is to level the hip bones and pubis while standing and lying down. Stand up with your side to a mirror. Place your finger tips of one hand on a hip bone and the finger tips of your other hand on your pubis. Move your pelvis forward and back until the two points are in one line. In other words, your pubis will not be farther forward or behind the hip bone. Now lie down on your back with your knees bent placing your fingertips on pubis and hip bone as you did while standing. Tilt and arch until the points are the same height, so the two hip bones and pubis are level.
Finding neutral pelvic alignment takes practice. And just because you found it, doesn’t mean that you will keep it. Be mindful of your pelvis as you sit, stand, and perform activities of daily living. Keep neutral pelvic alignment while exercising to improve your ability to recruit glute strength which will lead to a stronger, firmer fanny. You may even notice your aches and pains disappearing.