Why pelvic placement is important in Pilates

pelvic-motion-lateral-viewWhen we worked in Japan, we would never have guessed that we’d be writing an article about the pelvis! Despite our dance training since age 3, we had never stopped to learn or even think about the role the pelvis plays in the body.

While climbing the corporate ladder, we were no longer dancing, but we were running 7 miles in the morning, barely stretching and then sitting all day long — usually 10 hours at least — to make sure our Japanese colleagues knew we were serious hard-workers. In retrospect, knowing more about the pelvis and its surrounding the muscles would have saved our poor wittle backs (and probably increased our productivity too!)

Even if you’ve only taken one Pilates class in your life, your teacher most likely mentioned your pelvis more times than you could count! So why is the pelvis so important? In layman’s terms, it connects the upper and lover halves of the body. Tightness in the muscles that connect to the pelvis (which includes the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and hamstrings among others) cause problems in both the upper AND lower extremities. So YES — it’s pretty important!

So now for “Pelvis 101”: the word “pelvis” means “basin” in Latin. This is useful for visualizing how your pelvis should be positioned in relation to your spine and your femur (your thigh bone). If your pelvis were actually a basin full of water, you would want to walk, stand and sit keeping that basin completely level horizontally, so that the water wouldn’t spill out the front or the back. This is your “neutral” pelvis when upright and is depicted above by the picture in the middle. The term “ASIS” refers to your hip bones and the term “PSIS” is most easily described as those dimples you may see on the small of your back (though not completely accurate). You can see that the “basin” in the middle would not spill water down the front or back of your legs!

Likewise, an “anterior tilt” pictured on the left and a “posterior tilt” depicted on the right show common misalignments in the body. Think of it this way: in an “anterior tilt”, the hip bones move forward (anteriorly) relative to the pubic bone (the basin tips forward) and in a “posterior tilt”, the hip bones move back (posteriorly) relative to the pubic bone (the basin tips backwards). For those readers who care about the detailed anatomical definitions of all this, click here!

Since Pilates mainly occurs lying down, think that you rotate the above picture clockwise 90 degrees to put all the images on their backs! When lying down, a neutral pelvis is defined by the hip bones and the pubic bone in the same horizontal plane. An anterior tilt is seen by the lower back arching and the pubic bone dropping towards the floor and the hip bones rising, and a posterior tilt is seen by the lower back curling towards the mat with the pubic bone rising and the hip bones dropping.

In Pilates, all three positions are used, so you must listen to your instructor and know where your pelvis is at all times! Here are three exercises that require the three different positions: Swan Dive (pelvis moves from neutral to an anterior tilt); One Leg Circle (pelvis stays neutral throughout); and Rolling Like a Ball (pelvis stays posteriorly tilted throughout.) Want more? Our UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com website offers a full technique video on the training page just on the pelvis so log on and watch it!


March 5, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings.

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