Why does this matter? Yes, we need to diligently protect the spine while working out, but more broadly, we need to be protective of the spine during daily activities. There are five primary movement patterns: bend & lift, single-sided, push, pull, and rotate (you can read more at here). These patterns are based on how we move in daily life; therefore, all exercise is rooted in at least one of these movement patterns. Why? Because ultimately, the primary purpose of working out *is* to support our abilities to function in everyday life; physique and fitness goals are secondary – or should be.
Our foundation starts at our lumbar spine – our lower backs and core – and natural pelvic placement can tell us A LOT about the strength of our foundation. How? It’s all connected! Did you know that 80% of people experience will experience low back pain in their lives, and about 25% report chronic low back pain – all without any identifiable root cause?! I’m willing to bet a vast majority of folks are experiencing this pain due to a weak core combined with a tight back and hips. When the hips and back extensors are too tight, they want to pull the pelvis backward toward them, which is made even easier by the core’s weakness and inability to counter the backward pull to keep the pelvis neutral. Alternatively, if the core is too tight, that will lead to a natural posterior tilt. This matters because…? Well, our bodies learn to adapt over time, and we must make a conscious effort to change the subconscious functioning of our bodies.
Subconscious functioning?! What the heck?
This is a part of what most people know as muscle memory, but the technical term is proprioception: a self-awareness of the position of the body. This happens on a neuromuscular level before we can begin to think about it. Proprioceptors are like little sensors inside of your muscles that transmit messages to your central nervous system letting it know when things are – and are not – in place correctly. Think about that sharp tension you feel when you *almost* strain a muscle too far – when it sort of locks up to stop you from further injury – that’s one way the sensors work.
Proprioceptors also work to control basic movement patterns. If, over time, our muscles have learned to position themselves incorrectly for whatever reason, we will have to actively *think* about repositioning until we can train those muscles to remember the correct position. This comes through strengthening, stretching, and incorporating neuromuscular activities like balance. This is also why it’s so important not to skip through the phases of fitness without first building a properly study foundation. Just because our bodies *can* do something doesn’t mean they should or they’re doing it *correctly*. We need to master the mind-muscle connection first, then the muscle memory can happen.
If you have a natural anterior or posterior tilt as a result of muscle imbalances, injuries, etc., it is especially important to focus on proper pelvic alignment during both exercise and in daily life. In the next blog, I will go over some easy ways to determine if you have a natural pelvic tilt that should be addressed. I’m going to give you all the information you need to determine where you may have imbalances, and how to begin fixing them – from the ground up. There are no quick fixes, but it’s worth it. It’s worth avoiding unnecessary pain, injury, and chronic disease.
Stick with me!