The One Alignment Cue That Changes Everything

posture_like_gorillaFor the last twelve years in my Rolfing® practice I’ve given people this alignment cue over and over again, so it seemed ripe for a post! And when I saw it appear in Katy Bowman’s great book, I knew it was ripe for a post (because, well, I have a major body nerd crush on her and think she’s an uber genius).

So here’s the deal, this is a very common structural misalignment in our culture; that being the pelvis is forward of the ankles. What’s the big freaking deal you ask? Well it causes a whole host of problems from knee, hip, low back, and neck pain and strain (including wear and tear on, and mis-loading of, those joints leading to osteoarthritis over time), as well as giving us lousy posture and an unenviable belly pooch. And it’s oh so easily remedied. So check it out (Bonus! Learn about my aspiring Goth girl past!):

 

 

Illustration by Ari Moore

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20 Responses to “The One Alignment Cue That Changes Everything”

  1. Monique M. June 1, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Love this post, it’s such an important posture tip. I used to walk and stand just like your “aspiring goth girl” back when I was one. ;) The strain on my back was incredible. My posture is light years away from that nowadays, but I think this is an excellent reminder to keep in touch with how we’re standing, since I’m pretty sure that when I’m tired, I start to sink a little bit back into the old way of standing and moving.

    • Brooke June 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      Aspiring goth girls unite! Yes, I too slide back into “limbo mode” when tired…

  2. Sue June 1, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    So very basic but how effective this is, Thank you!

  3. Miriam H June 2, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    Love Your post! I m working on my psoas muscle at the moment with Liz Kochs book The Psoas Book and Your goth girl-pose is really one of the great strains for that muscle.
    I ve also noticed that the goth girl-look seems to be the preferred pose in almost every fashion show, and has been for quite some years so maybe once again it s the fashion buisness that s to blame.. :)

    • Jenni June 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Thanks so much for this awesome reminder, Brooke! Such a seemingly-simple tip with far-reaching effects. I really appreciate your great work in bringing so many insightful resources together in one blog (with a very cool logo) – you rock, man!

      • Brooke June 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

        Why thanks Jenni!!

    • Brooke June 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Ugh it’s so true. Who decided that “about to fall over” is sexy? Madness I say!

  4. Curt Chaffee June 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Checked my alignment using a mirror after watching the video. I was okay, but what I have noticed in the past few days that I get out of alignment as I adopt different postures in relation to different environments, situations, or mood. Betting that most of us do this unconsciously throughout the day. At least now I am aware enough to make the adjustment.

    • Brooke June 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      Yes different moods/environments change our posture(ing) for sure, which is totally fine and even useful (I’m going to walk differently down a dark alley then when walking into my friend’s living room for example), but it’s nice to get a good understanding of home base, i.e. neutral alignment, so that we can return there with more ease!

  5. Barb July 22, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    Thank you for this. It’s jibes with what my yoga teacher is telling me. However, I’m barefoot in yoga. In “real” life I wear cushioned shoes with orthotics. There’s a “rocker” effect and standing back on my heels actually lifts my toes out of contact with the ground. Any additional hints for adapting to (in my case, necessary) complications of sole layering?

    • Brooke July 25, 2013 at 11:37 am #

      Thanks for your comment Barb! When there is cushioning/orthotics involved your foundation has been shifted away from the norm, so it’s tough to say without seeing you in person how to best help you adapt without losing the orthotics. See, first, if you’re focusing too much on being back on your heels, rather than simply shifting the pelvis over your ankles. The pelvic position is the key thing to focus on. Beyond that, my best advice it to shift your pelvic position little by little. When we try to disrupt our pattern more quickly than we can integrate them we usually wind up just creating new problematic compensatory patterns, so see if gradually making your way there allows your toes to stay more in touch with the Earth.

  6. Rachel July 23, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Love this!

  7. Lainie December 26, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    This is very helpful! I’m new to your site and eager to make improvements in my alignment to resolve neck/back/shoulder/general energy and integrity issues. Thank you. My only very small suggestion is not to start off with “you guys.” I’m not a guy. I know it’s casual and ubiquitous but this verbal tic is really starting to bother me – it’s sort of the language equivalent of a forward pelvic tilt.

  8. Tina December 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Luckily, I never heard that as a teaching of shifting the pelvis forward and never taught it! Yah!

  9. Josselyn December 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Great post! I use this kind of cueing often with my pilates clients and really helps people who like to live in a tucked pelvis find a more neutral a functional alignment. Thanks for the video!

  10. allie March 31, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    This is brilliant. Most practitioners seems to focus on the tilting aspect of the pelvis; but it has always seemed too taxing to maintain long term, and I haven’t known how to really make it useful. I’m really excited to play around with this. Shifting! How simple, really. Thanks for another good one (there all good) !

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