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Neutral Pelvis – What is it and why is it important?

I am sure many have heard the term ‘neutral pelvis’ before in class and you may be wondering what this means.

A neutrally aligned pelvis allows the curves of the spine to operate in a balanced state with one another

The Pelvis literally plays a central role and forms a boney bridge between the upper and lower body, attaching to the spine at the sacrum. It has 6 fused bones and serves as a base for lower extremity movement.

 

 

The spine has three curves in it – the lumbar curve in the lower back, the thoracic curve in the middle, the cervical curves shoulders and neck. These curves are influenced by the pelvic position as well as influencing one another and are important for flexibility and withstanding the effects of gravity on the spine. Between each vertebra is the Intervertebral disc. This disc is like a sponge and has a small hard ball in the middle that likes to stay in the middle-our natural curves of the spine keep that stable and prevents it bulging. It plays a big role in shock absorption.

Hip flexibility is also dependent on the position of the pelvis.

The pelvis can move forwards (anterior tilt) and backwards (posterior tilt) and can be lifted side to side.

Anterior tilt will cause a deepening of the lumbar curve and subsequently other spinal curves and the spine is misaligned.

Posterior tilt is when the pelvis is tilted back and the curve of the lower back is flattened.

Most of us will have a slight hip height difference, meaning that one half of the pelvis may sit slightly higher left or right than the other. It is important to identify this and try to mobilize the pelvis in this plane or be aware of one-sided movements that could increase the discrepancy.

So, when is our pelvis in a neutral position?

When your ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine—the bony landmarks on the front of your hip bones) and your pubic bone are on the same level, or same plane, your pelvis is in a neutral position in relation to your spine. You are best to feel or palpate the marker bones (ASIS and pubic bone) at the front instead of thinking about how far off the ground your lower back may be. Everybody has a different size ‘butt’ or gluteal muscles, so the lumbar curve may not reflect the correct alignment!

How do I find my neutral pelvis?

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Find your ASIS left and right and place the heel of your hands on them. Now leave the heel of your hands on your ASIS and place your fingertips on your pubic bone, forming a V with your hands.

Look to see if these three points are level with the ground. If your pubic bone is closer to the ceiling, your pelvis is in posterior tilt, if the hip bones are closer to the ceiling, your pelvis is in more of an anterior tilt.

If you have any questions about finding neutral pelvis or maintaining it while you are doing Pilates, I will be happy to help you.

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Susan Heetveld
Susan is passionate about teaching people how improve their posture, daily activity and well being. Growing up in the Netherlands and  qualifying as a Physical Therapist, she added an Australian Masters in Developmental Disability after settling in Australia and having a family. Diplomas in Pilates have complimented her experience and though working with Neuromuscular issues has been her main focus, Susan’s expertise spans across a broad variety of people, prescribing individualised exercise therapy plans and postural advice.
Susan’s original postural therapy degree combined with Pilates has allowed her to educate clients on how our Musculoskeletal system works  and how to apply the exercises as an intelligent and balanced way of strengthening our body and stretching our minds. She has a very pragmatic approach to her lessons, where the importance lies in understanding what clients are achieving and feeling during an exercise and how they can translate this into their daily life.
You may meet Susan in our Mat or Arc classes, but she is also available for Private classes for those who are interested in a more individualised approach or if you have a weakness or injury. Susan conducts a short assessment before starting work on the cognitive process of unlearning old habits and relearning improved habits with a goal to be more flexible, stronger, prevent injury and have better postural awareness and control.
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