Movement Mondays: Un-sticking your ribs from your pelvis

A movement habit that I see all the time is a chronically tucked pelvis. This can arise from sitting for long periods on the sacrum, wearing heeled shoes that thrust the pelvis forward among other reasons. When the pelvis is in a chronically tucked position, it takes the lumbar spine (low back) into flexion and ends up sort of "casting" the pelvis and low back to move together. When this happens, movement that should be at the hip joints ends up coming from the lumbar spine which in turn can make for some unhappy lower backs.

Think about an everyday movement that you do, such as bending down to pick something up off the floor. How do you do it? Where is the bulk of the bend coming from? Do it in front of a mirror or get a friend to bend down for you. Watch what the pelvis does. You will likely see just a slight hinge at the pelvis and the lower back rounding to get you further down. Another reason why this can happen is tight hamstrings. Because the hamstrings attach to the sit bones, if they are tight they will only allow your pelvis to move so far. Next week we will look into this pelvis hinging movement more deeply, but for today we want to first try to separate the pelvis from your ribs in certain movements. 

When we try to un-stick the pelvis from the lower back and rib cage it can be a deceptively hard movement. I find the easiest way to start to separate those two body parts is on the hands and knees. Try this in front of a mirror.

  • Go onto your hands and knees. Allow your belly to relax and your ribs to drop to the floor.
  • When you are on your hands and knees, is your lower back flat or can you see a lumbar curve?
  • Un-tuck your pelvis so that your tailbone rises up to the ceiling and you have a lumbar curve again.

Now for the fun part:

  • Can you keep your pelvis in the position it is in and bring your ribs up towards your spine?
  • Look in the mirror and double check that you didn't tuck your pelvis along with the movement of the ribs. 
  • Try a few more times until your brain is able to un-stick those two parts. 

Check out this short video demonstrating how to separate your pelvis from your ribs. Have fun and stay tuned for next week as we dive in a little deeper to the movement (or lack of!) your pelvis. 

For those of you who are yoga teachers or other style of movement teachers, see if you can notice the same habit in your students. You will likely see that when most people are on their hands and knees feeling like their spine is relaxed or in "neutral" their pelvis will still be in a tucked position. A chronic habit that I see all the time and usually takes a little bit for your students brain's to reconfigure the movement in their bodies. So interesting!

Enjoy and see you next week everyone! Feel free to share and leave a comment below.