Friday, August 28, 2009

The Pelvic Tilt: The World’s Most Underappreciated Exercise

The pelvic tilt is, by far, one of the most effective warm ups for the core I’ve ever done. I became a great fan of the pelvic tilt when I inadvertently spent fifteen minutes arching and curling my spine before a Pilates class. It is very easy to compensate for weak lower abdominal muscles by over-taxing the back, clenching the fronts of the thighs, or tightening the ribs. The pelvic tilt helps to reveal these ineffective patterns, making way for a much deeper, internal sense of the core.

Here’s the exercise:

• Lie on your back with your feet on the mat and knees in the air.
• Let your thighs soften and relax.
• Let your feet connect to the mat and ground evenly.
• Slowly, on an inhalation, arch the low back increasing the natural space between the lowest ribs and the tailbone (lumbar curve).
• Slowly, on an exhalation, flatten the back into the mat using just the muscles of the pelvic floor (the sling at the base of the pelvic bones that contains the bladder and anal control muscles) and the lower abdominal muscles between the pubic bone and the belly button.
• Continue undulating between your arch and flattened low back for several minutes until you feel the back relax and the deep core muscles contract and heat up.

The feeling of intense abdominal connection is not like the ache you might remember from doing a hundred crunches. There is a strengthening quality to the movement, but also a simultaneous relaxation of many neighboring muscles that are unneeded to perform this simple action. One of wonderful side benefits is that the more relaxed your low back becomes when you flatten the lumbar curve, the more your deep abdominal muscles have to engage. Over time you will begin to see how your low back and your belly work together to support your spine. But I digress…

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