The Importance of a Neutral Pelvis: Empowering Your Body's Structural IntegrityJul 22, 2023
Seattle Tech Butt Syndrome and the Impact of a Posterior Pelvis on Performance, Appearance, and Well-being.
Seattle, the thriving tech center, is inadvertently becoming the hub for a condition known as posterior pelvis syndrome. It's a prevalent issue, with around 50% of the men and women I encounter suffering from a posterior pelvis due to the nature of their work. This phenomenon, often referred to as Tech Butt or Seattle Butt Syndrome, can weaken the structural integrity of individuals, regardless of their muscular fitness or endurance levels. Surprisingly, even young hipsters in Seattle, who spend significant time in front of their computers, are falling victim to this condition, experiencing both physical and aesthetic setbacks.
What is Tech Butt?
Technically termed a "posterior pelvis," this condition occurs when the pelvis tilts backward, resulting in a flattened spine and the disruption of muscular coordination throughout the body. The impact can be visually observed through various signs and symptoms:
To assess if you have a posterior pelvis, have someone take a side-view photo of you while standing naturally relaxed. If the top seam of your pants tilts backward, it is highly likely that you have a posterior pelvis.
As depicted in the accompanying image, a posterior pelvis creates a cascade of effects throughout the entire body. Every muscle, bone, and ligament is thrown off balance, leading to a range of performance, appearance, and pain-related issues. These include:
The posterior pelvis disrupts the natural shock absorption of the spine, impairing running speed and increasing the impact felt during activities like running and jumping. Additionally, it hinders the ability to engage the lower abs and maintain a balanced pelvic floor tone, diminishing overall power output in sports such as cycling and skiing.
A posterior pelvis affects the development and balance of muscles throughout the body. Those affected often exhibit poor tone in their lower abs, overactive obliques, tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, painful low backs, neck strain, and an increased likelihood of rotator cuff and shoulder injuries. From head to toe, this postural pattern influences the entire body, with frequent strain experienced in the knees, flattened spine, forward-thrusting head, weakened chin line, and facial tension. Furthermore, individuals with a posterior pelvis often struggle to move with ease and grace, frequently resulting in a perpetually flat butt and a forward-leaning posture.
Pain and Injury:
A posterior pelvis places excessive strain on bones, muscles, and ligaments throughout the body, compromising the spine's ability to absorb shocks. Consequently, individuals with this condition may experience a higher susceptibility to joint problems. Furthermore, compromised deep core reflexes and weakened core tone increase strain on all joints, potentially prolonging the healing process.
Continence and Respiration:
Once again, the deep core takes center stage. These core muscles are responsible for both spinal support and controlling the pelvic floor (continence) and respiration. A flattened spine affects the ligaments and tonicity of organs connected to the pelvic floor, potentially leading to continence issues and prolapse over time. Additionally, it alters the angles of the ribs and diaphragm, impacting the function of the diaphragm muscles and making breathing more challenging.
Grounding and Support:
In the realm of body-mind connection, Ida Rolf often emphasized that when people feel supported in their bodies, they feel supported in their lives. In my two decades of experience with Rolfing, I have consistently witnessed this phenomenon. In practical terms, when one has a posterior pelvis or any significant postural compensation, their nervous system struggles to trust or feel supported by their own body. From an acupuncture perspective, the body's meridians cannot efficiently ground the energy from the upper body, resulting in a perpetual state of being "stuck in the head." It's akin to driving a car with four differently sized tires. Unfortunately, until one experiences the contrast, it remains difficult to truly understand.
Addressing the Posterior Pelvis:
Thankfully, there are ways to rectify this pattern. Here are some recommendations:
1Deep Core Toning: A posterior pelvis often signifies a breakdown in the entire "Deep Core" system, including timing, tone, endurance, and strength. Deep core toning classes, available at our studio, target these aspects and help restore balance. Women who have had children or individuals with back or pelvic floor issues may need to work on timing and tone regularly. The deep core reflexes are jump-started through breathing exercises, making it an essential starting point for all boot camps and classes.
Exercises to Master:
- Imprint technique
- Hip roll mastery
- Breathing mastery
- Extension skill mastery
- Strengthening and toning intrinsic foot muscles
ISF Classes: Once deep core tone has been established, Integration Strength & Flexibility (ISF) classes come into play. These classes focus on balancing muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination throughout the legs, pelvis, and spine. By challenging individuals with greater range of motion and strength exercises, these classes subtly retrain the nervous system, encouraging better pelvis positioning. The deep core tone developed previously acts as a foundation, aiding in the integration of new movement patterns.
Rolfing®: A primary goal of Rolfing is to restore joint neutral alignment. Ida Rolf herself regarded achieving a neutral pelvis as a paramount objective for each session. Rolfing practitioners utilize a bottom-up approach, starting from the feet and working up to the neck, in order to neutralize the pelvis and realign the entire body.
Things to Be Cautious About:
While some approaches may seem promising, they often yield unfavorable results or even exacerbate the condition:
Hard Training: Intensive workouts tend to reinforce compensation patterns, driving them deeper into the body. Believing that working out harder can rectify the issue is akin to thinking that working longer hours will lead to wealth. It's comparable to taking on multiple jobs at a fast-food establishment instead of pursuing higher education. Unfortunately, this approach often leads to exhaustion and falling behind. If intense workouts fail to alleviate a flat posterior, consider slowing down and exploring alternatives such as VASIE (Visual, Auditory, Somesthetic, Imagery, and Emotional) exercises and Rolfing sessions.
Excessive Stretching: While increased flexibility may feel good, it does not address structural issues. Similar to intense training, excessive stretching can exacerbate existing patterns and result in heightened pain and lower lumbar instability. Engaging in exercises that emphasize large ranges of motion may be enjoyable in the moment but may not effectively correct the posterior pelvis. It may be beneficial to explore alternative approaches for a period of time.
Additional Self-Tests for the Posterior Pelvis Pattern:
1. Tuck your pelvis under and flatten your lower back while standing. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
2. Arch your back and stick your butt out. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
If a flattened back feels more comfortable, you may likely have a posterior pelvis.
Living Life without Tech Butt:
To gain further insight into the strain and movement patterns associated with a posterior pelvis, try tucking your pelvis under slightly and maintaining that position while walking for a few minutes. Pay attention to any feelings of strain, odd sensations, or difficulties experienced throughout your body. These subtle indicators highlight the impact of a posterior pelvis, which often goes unnoticed in daily life.