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  • Walking Without a Pelvis

    The title of this blog is radical.  I am not suggesting surgical removal though.  I'm hoping we can expand the way we label our body parts.

    The Pelvis is three bones; the two sides are called the innominate (the image below is naming them 'hip bones') and the central bone is the sacrum (with the coccyx attached below).

    In our modern way of looking at anatomy we have separated these bones from their surrounding bones and labelled them as a group - 'pelvis'.  By doing this we have made an inference that this is one block, one unit, one bowl. 

    Many of us are walking around with our body expressing the belief that our pelvis doesn't move.  That the swing of our legs in walking occurs at our hip joints (at the tops of our thighs). We can feel this type of walking quite easily if we tuck our tail under and take a walk. The hip joints hinge but the torso remains still. There is no side to side movement of the tail.  

    The following video shows us pelvic movement closer to reality.

    Look! The pelvis is walking.  Each sit bone swings with each leg and the tail swings side to side.

    From the perspective of function we would be better off categorising our bones in the following way. Each innominate would be grouped with each leg, I'll call this group 'locomotion', and the sacrum would resume its belonging within the spine. 

    Now if we take a walk we can untuck the tail and imagine it free and long in the back space.  Walking we can see if we can allow our tail its natural side to side motion.  We can't force this movement and we can't manufacture it.  So, go gently.  We use imagination and letting go and observe with kindness if something shifts in our motion.  If it doesn't, its ok! 

    Reclaiming this capacity of the free movement of walking is one of the primary goals of Rolfing.  So if you don't feel it straight away you have company.  If it were easy, Rolfers would be out of a job.  So be gentle and inquisitive.  The point of this article is to open our minds.  Slowly slowly our bodies will follow.

  • Dimensions of the Pelvis

    I love to use the three dimensional models when talking about the pelvis.  It makes it so much easier to visualise what is happening in this remarkable area of the body. 

    Sitting is the perfect opportunity to experience the support capacity of the pelvis.  Try it two ways.

    1/ tail tucked under, weight behind sitbones (image).

    2/ tail reaching back, weight in front of sitbones and into thighs (image)

    How do you feel? How easy is it to achieve uprightness? How is your breathing? How about your perspective on the world? 

    This gif shows the movement and the anatomy.  Notice the tail and sit bones moving back and how this changes the spine curves from a C to a soft S curve. Very often when we try to correct our posture we lift our chest up and pull our shoulders back but we don’t do anything to change the pelvis.  It takes a lot of effort to hold this position.  But if we change the pelvic orientation the chest naturally rises and the shoulders sit more easily into the back space. 

    In the next video we can see my pelvis model sitting on a meditation cushion.  The tail in not taking any weight.  The bones on the cushion are called the rami.  They connect the sit bones to the pubic bone and are part of the pelvic floor (I’ve written more on the pelvic floor here). We can see the tail is a far more delicate structure that the rami.  It is not designed to hold the weight of our body! 

    When I sit on the tram and notice people sitting there appears to be a kind of nonchalant attitude linked with the tail tucked under sitting. Coolness, safety and life in the device. I wonder if we were still spending time squatting each day whether we would be sitting this way so much. Luckily many of us are changing these habits and intentionally reclaiming healthy movements in our life. The child below reminds us that we are not born with tails tucked under.  We are born free to squat and live with an upright spine and a delight in life.