All my clients and students hear the words “neutral pelvis” a LOT. And if you have ever taken a Pilates class then, most likely you have heard this term. But, what IS neutral pelvis?
A neutral pelvis is finding the natural curve in your spine and doing movement and work with your spine in a completely decompressed position. A neutral pelvis is the keystone for an aligned body that moves efficiently.
Instead of “tucking” or “over-arching” the pelvis and lower back, working with neutral is the most ideal and can actually help decrease or eliminate back pain. When your vertebrae are stacked up on one another as opposed to compressing into one another, then there is less room for back pain to develop. Think about a neutral pelvis creating space between each vertebrae, and now imagine muscles supporting this spacious posture — as opposed to muscles overworking and keeping the body in habitual compressed positions.
Now, with that information, I will introduce one exercise to find neutral and one exercise to introduce neutral pelvis into stabalized movement. These are both beginner exercises but are SO important to learn and revisit even as advanced students.
1. Pelvic Tilts
Lie flat on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and have your feet on the floor. Place your hands on your hip bones. Tilt your pelvis so that you are imprinting your lower back into the floor, feel your hip bones rocking under your hands as you do so. Now extend your pelvis the opposite way, arching your lower back off the floor and sinking your tail bone into the floor. Keep going through this tilting-extending movement. Now find somewhere in the middle, where the lower back isn’t pressing into the floor but isn’t overarching. You will feel the hip bones in the same plane as your pubic bone and you’ll be able to imagine that you can balance a full glass of wine on your lower belly. This is neutral. This is a decompressed lower back.
2. Knee Raises
Begin with a gentle exercise with neutral pelvis. Keep your hands on your hips to make sure you are not moving your pelvis. Engage your abdominals by wrapping lower abs, narrowing your waist, and drawing navel to spine. Pelvis does not move! Exhale and slowly lift one leg up into table top WITHOUT moving your pelvis. Inhale and place that foot back onto the floor and switch legs. Go through this 20 times (10x each leg). Feel how your abdominals work to support this lengthened and decompressed spine instead of your pelvis moving around or falling back into bad postural habits.
Next month, we wil progress these exercises to intermediate/advanced neutral exercises.