You know the saying when someone has worked really hard and you say ‘she worked her butt off!’, I joked after I had my first child – ‘I birthed my butt off!’ not knowing why my butt was so flat. In fact what had happened is my alignment had changed so much during pregnancy that my core wasn’t functioning properly and I began compensating by gripping in my butt and my rib cage to find some stability. My glutes were inhibited and became very flat. My tummy was still poochy even though the baby weight was gone.
When in optimal alignment the core is ‘free’ to do its job and you don’t have to think about it. The posture you live and move in along with pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, etc. all contribute to non-optimal alignment, which means non-optimal core function. Typical signs of a dysfunctional core are incontinence, a poochy tummy, back pain and organ prolapse to name a few. The first step in optimizing the core is alignment.
Using myself as my guinea pig I started to make some alignment changes. Slowly, I noticed subtle changes and can now proudly say that I have a booty again – even more bootier than it was before pregnancy and my tummy isn’t poochy anymore! I used release work, alignment work, breath work and strength work. Slowly, but surely, my body responded.
Here are some of my alignment principles;
- It starts with the feet – feet that are not confined to shoes with heels and pointy toes give us a better good starting point.
- Lengthen your backside – calf and hamstring stretches help the pelvis live in its favourite neutral position.
- Release the tense butt – one of my favourite releases is the posterior pelvic floor release. Sit on a hard surface chair and put a tennis ball, a yoga tune up ball or a franklin ball in between the sitz bone and the anus with that butt cheek down. The key is to be able to let go of the tension in the glutes and the posterior pelvic floor so that the ball sinks into the butt. Hold it for 60 seconds, then take the ball out and feel the space and soft, spread-out goodness in the butt. Then repeat on the other side.
- Release the tight obliques – overusing the obliques is a common compensation strategy, which results in a rigid rib cage that is not able to sit where it should or allow the breath to go where it needs to go. My favourite stretch/release to give is the crescent stretch or c-stretch as I call it.
- Stack the pelvis – once the butt and obliques are released, then the pelvis and rib cage have an easier time aligning themselves. The rib cage and pelvis should be stacked – the rib cage over the pelvis.
Sit less, move more – I switched to a stand-up workstation about 2 years ago and alternate between standing to sitting on a chair to sitting on the floor. I also limit the amount of time I am in either one of those positions.
- When you must sit, sit on your sitz bones – there are many times that you need and want to sit, but most of the chairs encourage slouching which results in a tucked under tail bone. Rolled up towels or wedges can help make up for the poor chairs.
- Slouching is ok – sometimes – there are times when you want to laze around on the couch and that is ok! It is when you ‘live’ in that slouched position day in and day out that it becomes a problem. Allow yourself the freedom to slouch on occasion, but choose to live well aligned for the majority of your day.
- Baby alignment steps – it took years to get out of proper alignment and it may take years to get back into it – take it easy on yourself and recognize the accomplishments you make. Choose one alignment element to work on and dedicate a week or two just to that – go slow, take baby alignment steps – it will happen.
- Read my favourite Alignment Blog – [http://www.katysays.com] Katy Bowman is my hero.