I showed up to take a class this morning and was instantly greeted with ”Natalie, I’m sore here (pointing to her lower back) what would you do?” So I answered, ”well, what I would do is probably a psoas or an iliacus release as I find these really helpful for my back when it is feeling a bit sore. But….that doesn’t mean that it is the right thing for you to do. ” We had 10 minutes before the class started so I suggested she give it a go and see if it helped her.
This got me into talking further about how I would also be checking on my alignment points and whether I was paying attention to them in my daily activity. (when in pain I ask myself) What have I been doing recently that has contributed to this pain? Were my ribs poking out? Often this is true as in the case of stress as my body naturally assumes a rib thrust position. When I am standing, is my body in a forward leaning position or can I back my weight over my heels so my bones are stacked vertically? Is the pain in my knees? Are my feet turning out as I walk? And so the investigation goes.
Often we only really have to make some small shift in the way we are doing things. Can we move from a place of no pain? We may be making the same movements but in a smaller range of motion. The body wants to move and it benefits from moving in different ways. We have spoken about this before and will continue to touch on this very important subject.
One of the things which can help with back issues is learning how the back can move. Very basically, it can either bend forward from a hinge at the hips or we can round forward. How mobile is your pelvis? Can it move (relatively) independently from your torso or is there a huge movement through your entire ribcage and neck when you try to tilt the pelvis either way. Does it tilt forward or backwards more easily? These are great things to explore. The back was designed to move in all sorts of different ways and if we constrict it to just one way, we can lose the ability to move it in other ways. This is so much the case if we spend a lot of our day sitting. We end up with a posteriorly tucked pelvis (see blog here)
One of the great things about the traditional Pilates method is that exercises are treated this way. We may begin an exercise in a rounded back position (e.g. the hug on the short box) and the following exercise is a hip hinge with a flat back.
Let’s explore a way to get some more motion in the pelvis and the back.
Ideally you begin by sitting on the flat side of a ½ dome. If you don’t have a dome at home this can still be done sitting on the floor. Begin on top of your sitting bones with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hands are behind thighs or knees. Push your feet into the floor and attempt to drag them towards your butt – they don’t move but this action will help to tilt the pelvis forward. Then reverse the pressure on your feet – push them forward and feel the pelvis move back into a tuck. At first, there may be very minimal movement but with work, the range can increase a lot.