The spine has three natural curvatures. A gentle curve outward at the neck, or cervical spine, a curve inwards at your mid-back, or thoracic spine, and another outward curve at the bottom of your spine, also know as the lumbar spine. What people often forget about is the pelvis and sacrum – the true base of your spine. The pelvis is a heart shape construct of three different bones (the ishium, ilium, and pubis) that support the entire body. The sacrum makes up for the back-middle part of the pelvis. A relatively triangular shape that ends at our tailbone. There is a joint made between the legs and the pelvis, called the hips, that sit into a socket on the ischium called the acetabulum. So if we really think about it.. the pelvis is the true bony structure linking the spine to the legs. Now, let’s consider the influence on movement. The pelvis must tilt when we go to walk, bend, lift, and reach. The movement may not be very big, which is why a lot of people overlook the importance of the motion. But, it is incredibly relevant.
What I have noticed in my clinical practice is a lot people with persistent low back pain have trained their pelvis to move at the exact same time as their spine. Overall this becomes incredibly inefficient in energy expenditure, and causes the muscles that arise from the back and attach to the pelvis to be incredibly taught and angry. These are the main muscles that extend our back and allow us to stand straight. So… how do we fix this? The first step is teaching your body to move the pelvis and the spine separately. Sounds crazy right, but it’s actually quite simple. I will admit that the first few days of these exercises are always more “brain work” than anything. Together, we are trying to overcome movement patternings that your body has developed primarily due to pain. When your back is sore, every movement you try to make becomes guarded. For instance when you try to bend, you may notice that you stiffen from your pelvis all the way up to your neck. You develop this concrete spine motion where you are too afraid to move anything connected to the back, so all of a sudden bending now is purely coming from your knees, and reaching is incredibly awkward. It’s like you completely forget that you have hips and a pelvis!