If you're interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Alignment Matters. If you'd like movement instruction via video, start with Alignment Snacks: All fo’ the Pelvic Flo’.
Here ye, here ye: Movement is food. Exercises are vitamins. Just as you can’t live on a diet of supplements, your body cannot get what it needs from isolated exercises.
In the beginning...or, at some point 40 years ago, it was commonly accepted that the human pelvis was neutral when the ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine) and the PSIS (Posterior Superior Iliac Spine) lined up on a horizontal plane like this:
Which, if you notice, places the pubic symphysis a skosh in front of the rest of the pelvis.
Later, a neutral pelvis was redefined (by people who research and write therapy textbooks and stuff) as the ASIS lining up with the Pubic Symphysis in a vertical plane, like this:
Subtle difference. I, like many, use the latter, although there are still a ton of people using the former. And really, who knows which is correct? It's not like there's a book out there that came with the body saying which was what and how to use it. The reason the Institute uses this marker, though, is because the PSIS is not prominent, which makes is invisible even to the well-trained eye. And, studies on measurement show that in women or anyone with a bit of extra padding, this point is misinterpreted, making the PSIS really unusable unless you're extremely thin and you've got a master body-worker to prod, feel, and alert you to the point each time you need to check your own alignment.
But that that all aside, a good question is WHY do we need a neutral pelvis?
And it's such a good question, I'm glad someone asked:
Katy, if it isn't too much trouble, could you please quickly explain why you need a neutral pelvis to prevent organ prolapse. I want to understand! Thank you! ♥
In a nutshell: You get the greatest amount of loaded hip extension while walking with the ASIS and PS in a vertical plane.
Now before I explain more, it helps to see it in pictures and to try this out for yourself.
Try out my neutral (ASIS/PS) first. And I call it my neutral because I invented it and it's mine so I own it. You can just borrow it.
Lie face down and get your ASIS and PS on the ground. WITHOUT moving the pelvis (which is tricky because the pelvis will tend to rock forward, pressing the ASIS more into the ground and lifting the PS away) lift your leg to it's maximal height -- no straining.
Make sure you're not bending your knee (use a mirror), which is common when your muscles are so tight.
If you measure the angle between the thigh bone and the pelvis, it's ideal if you can come up to about 30°. This is an indication that your glutes and hamstrings work through this range of motion while walking.
Note: you must also be pelvic-listing on the standing leg, and keep your heel connected as long as possible, which -- it's coming all together now -- requires nice, long calf muscles.
(And do I need to mention my drawings are never to scale?)
That crappy picture up there is trying to explain something that is critical to understand. But, I don't have enough time to write more on that if it's unclear as well as crappy.
Want to know why I'm short on time?
Moving on, give yourself a slightly tucked pelvis by propping up the ASIS by lying on a rolled towel or yoga mat and keep your PS on the ground. How does this affect your hip motion when you try to extend?
Try to lift your leg WITHOUT increasing pressure in the ASIS or moving the PS.
What'd ya come up with? (And, P.S. That last picture was me trying to extend my hip. With all of my might but little avail.)
Most people can't budge their hips at all with their pelvis posteriorly tilted. Which means they can't do it while walking either. Which means no loaded hip extension while walking, which means very little work performed by the glutes.
A neutral pelvis gives our hips the much-need range of motion while walking. Yes, a neutral pelvis is also great while standing and sitting, but it’s what the glutes do while walking that gives the pelvic floor, always contracting under the load of the abdominal and pelvic floor organs, the constant resistance to generate an eccentric force that it needs to keep from shortening.
Does that make sense, Ms. Cupid?
And can I stress the walking-with-neutral pelvis part of this post? Because a few days ago someone sent me the 1 Billion Squat Challenge, or something like that, and said, Isn't This Awesome? How Strong is Everyone's Pelvic Floor Going To BE???
Squats are the new black, apparently. And while I love me some squatting, you're missing my *big point on natural movement.* Biology is not a fan of using exercises in lieu of movement. Exercises to improve movement is one thing -- eating exercises like M&Ms is another.
(Is anyone else craving M&Ms now?)
What I can totally see happening twenty years from now is people doing as many squats a day as they were kegel exercises. Magazines will be touting the squat as the go-to exercise for pelvic floor disorder. Every physical therapist and every birth educator and every personal trainer will be handing out the squat ExRx like it’s a dollar bill. And we’ll have the exact same problem: the sarcomeres of the pelvic floor being positioned away from neutral. And guess who’s going to look like a jackass in 2033? I am.
Only thanks to the internet, I’ve got it on digital record that I told you so, repeatedly, if you've really read all my blog posts. Poor Dr. Arnold Kegel wasn’t so lucky. I never said you should be squatting as an exercise. I’m saying you should be squatting in a manner similar to how you would were there no modern conveniences. Squat when you go to the bathroom. Squat when you pick up stuff.
The squat isn’t for the “exercise” of it, but for the movement. And movement, like food, offers way more than just minerals and vitamins.
Thanks. I love ya, peeps.