This post is in response to a question from reader. BTW I love receiving questions, so be sure to send me yours!
Michael writes: You mention that when standing the pelvis should be tipped slightly forward (e.g. p. 62 of The New Rules of Posture—"a mild forward tilt gives the lumbar vertebrae the best mechanical advantage for both stability and movement") as opposed to a neutral position. Yet when I read Ida Rolf's "Rolfing", she repeatedly stresses how a healthy pelvis is perfectly horizontal, tipped neither forward nor backwards, and most of the other advice I've seen (particularly on vocal production) stresses the need to "tuck" the rear of the pelvis in order to achieve a neutral position.
Seeing as this is such a deeply fundamental aspect of posture, I was curious if you could tell me where the rationale for a "mild forward tilt" comes from (e.g. how you determined this gives the best mechanical advantage, if that's it), and if it differs from Rolf's perspective or if there's a detail I'm missing? (Regarding standing, not sitting.) And also if there are any visual examples of this? Your book shows exaggerated forward and backward tile, and shows a neutral position, but doesn't show the difference between a neutral position and a mild forward tilt, so it's difficult for me to conceive of just exactly how much "mild" is.
About the pelvis
I think Dr. Rolf (I studied with her first hand) had it wrong about spinal curvatures. She was trying to achieve functional lengthening of the spine by means of reducing spinal curves. Lengthening/decompressing the spine is a function, not a position. Dr. Rolf treated everyone (including me with my too flat lumbar spine) as if they were hyper-lordotic. What that did for me was gap the lumbar facets (so they were in constant slight flexion) and make my lumbosacral area unstable. I had low back pain for years after first being Rolfed. IMO Rolf got most things right, but not this.
Tucking the tail affects the positioning of the lumbar area but does not improve the spine’s ability to lengthen with movement. Further, tail tucking actually puts your body too far back on your heels—and you mentioned that this had gotten you in trouble with the Gokhale method. When I say “mild forward tilt”. I mean mild. This usually achieves the horizontality Ida Rolf spoke about. So a mild forward tilt is neutral. The anterior tilt also helps seat the femoral heads into the hip sockets, making the hips more stable as well as mobile. Tucking the tail tilts the pelvis posterior, thrusting the femur heads forward and externally rotating them. This is not a sustainable pattern for healthy gait.
Advice about where to position a pelvis depends on where that particular pelvis is, along with its relationship to the legs below and everything else above. So where “neutral” is depends on the whole person. Some pelvises are tilted too far back to begin with, while others are tilted too far forward. For those people I teach the exercise on p 178, which helps decompress the lumbar area from above. There are also new spine decompression practices in my new book, Your Body Mandala).
© 2018 Mary Bond