Treatment Massage

The Injury and Pain Relief Clinic

We often hear of people locking their knees or elbows, but rarely do we hear of someone locking their pelvis. We do hear sometimes of people tucking their butt, but this also isn't often. However, locking the pelvis, or butt-tucking if you wish to call it that, can lead to serious problems.

What is pelvis locking? Let us first look at locking the knees, since most of us are more familiar with that. Locking the knees occurs when the knees move backward and the bones of the thigh (femur) and lower leg (tibia) then rest together in such a way that they let the soft tissue of the joint relax as much as possible because the bones are doing most of the work of maintaining the relationship of the knee. Many people have adopted this strategy, and while in some ways it does take less physical effort, it is not without its price.

Locking the pelvis is similar to locking the knees in the sense that the relationship of the pelvis to the femur (our thigh bone) changes to where they rest against one another, and some of the tissue that controls that relationship can more fully relax. If the femurs are vertical, then it would look like the person was tucking their butt under. In reality, more often that relationship of the pelvis to the femur is the same, but the orientation in space is different... Usually pelvic locking occurs when the standing person shifts their pelvis forward in space, shifting weight into the front of their feet, until the pelvis rests into the femurs.

While resting in the locked position, the muscles that negotiate the relative position of the pelvis to the thigh can often relax, and larger continuums of tissue now take over for control of the vertical nature of the body. Similar to locking the knees providing some rest for some of the tissues, locking the pelvis also provides some rest to some of the tissues, but it is far from balance.

Isn't ease what we are striving for? Yes indeed, but ease of the whole system/body and we are also looking for a way to prevent damage to our body. So we are looking for a way for joints to be "functionally neutral" in the sense that they are as neutral as possible that our bodies allow, and can function well. Locking the knees, elbows, and pelvis are far from being good strategies for long-term health and function.

What's the fuss about? Looked at from the most simplistic viewpoint, when a joint is locked it is at one end of its "Range of Motion" (ROM). If you ask that joint to move further, it can't do it without damage. So in functional terms, there is only one option for a locked joint and that is to move in the direction to unlock. Pushing it further into a locked position is not really an option. When you remove options regarding joint movement, especially when it is a habit, you are setting yourself up for injury. One day your body will want to move further in that direction and there will not be any more range of motion available, but physics will dictate that the motion occurs and you will end up damaging the joint in some way. Just think of how tweaked you knee and hip can feel when you think you are at the last step of a staircase, but there really is one more step to go... your body has to accommodate for the fact that there is more distance to go down, even though it is set up to not go that far. That never feels very good, but if there is more adaptability in your body, if there is another choice or option, if there is more range of motion available where it is needed, then things can work out with minimal disruption.

How to make a change... if you are a person that tends to have your weight forward in your feet, then you are likely to have your pelvis locked, and shifted forward in space (relative to your ankles). While standing, slowly bring your bottom backwards as if you are about to sit down on a seat behind you. As you bring your pelvis back, you will feel the weight shift back in your feet toward your heels. When the weight is mostly in your heels, stop sitting back... your pelvis is now over your ankles. This first step of this exercise may be enough for you right now. If so, just play with this part, and do it everywhere... when waiting in the grocery line, at the bank, cooking in front of the stove, etc. You will gain a lot from this alone. If you want more, continue.

The next step is to play with the tilt of the pelvis when you have the weight already shifted back into your heels. To do this, keep the weight in the feet where it is, and stick your butt out backwards a bit. Then tuck your tailbone under a bit (while still keeping the weight in the feet back in the heels). By playing with the tilt of the pelvis while keeping the weight in the heels, you will see how much range of motion you have for pelvic tilt. Ideally you will find the end of each side of the range of motion, and you want to rest the pelvis at a tilt generally in the middle of that range.

Over time by playing with this exercise you will find that your legs, hips, and back all end up with more ease because they will all be negotiating the stress and strain of gravity more efficiently. When you lock the knees or the pelvis (or both), you pinpoint the stress and strain into very specific spots which will eventually have problems do to being overloaded. Our bodies are designed to spread out stresses over the whole system, because that is far more efficient and less damaging to any one part.

Play with this exercise, and feel free to let me know how it is going!

Cheers,

Mark Pearlscott LMP, BCSI, KMI
Licensed Massage Practitioner (License MA00012592)
Board Certified Structural Integrator
Kinesis Myofascial Integration
Treatment Massage - Seattle Massage Therapy and Structural Integration for Better Alignment, Injury Rehabilitation/Treatment, and Pain Relief
4500 9th Ave NE, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98105
206-234-9929

All material copyright 1999 - 2017
by Mark Pearlscott and Treatment Massage.

Treatment Massage - The Injury and Pain Relief Clinic
4500 9th Avenue NE, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98105
All material copyright 1999 - 2017
by Mark Pearlscott and Treatment Massage.

Treatment Massage - The Injury and Pain Relief Clinic
4500 9th Avenue NE, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98105