If you’ve ever taken a Pilates class, chances are you’ve heard the terms “neutral” and “imprint,” but what exactly does that mean?
When the hip bones and pubic bone are in the same horizontal plane when lying down or same vertical plane when standing, we have a neutral pelvis. Knowing how to locate you’re neutral pelvis is important; not only does it allow for a neutral spine, which is the most stable and shock absorbing position for the body, but it also allows us to effectively engage our pelvic floor muscles (i.e. no more peeing our pants!). In neutral pelvis, we also work our Transversus Abdominis, the deepest layer of abdominal muscles and a key stabilizer of the lower back.
To Find Your Neutral Pelvis
- Lay on your back with your knees bent
- Find your hip bones (ASIS) and place the palm of your hand on the hip bones and your finger tips on your pubic bone (symphysis pubis), creating a “V” shape with your hands
- These three points should all be level to one another and be in the same horizontal plane, so you could rest a teacup in the center of that “V” and it wouldn’t spill either way.
In Pilates we use neutral pelvis when the legs are on the floor or equipment. As we progress through the work and develop a more stable core, the goal is to begin to challenge ourselves even more by maintaining neutral pelvis while the legs are off the mat or equipment.
Although a neutral pelvis is optimal, there are times when an imprint should be used instead. An imprinted pelvis position is often cued during exercises to ensure stability of the lower back when both feet are lifted off the mat and our abs aren’t yet strong enough to protect our low back in neutral. In the process of supporting your back while in imprint position, you will be strengthening your abdominal muscles and your back muscles. In time, the goal is to be able to do more exercises in neutral position.
How to Find your Imprinted Pelvis
- After finding your neutral pelvis, place your index fingers on your hip bones (ASIS) and reach your thumbs up to your bottom ribs.
- Without engaging your glute muscles, tilt you pelvis towards you thus shortening the distance between your index fingers and thumbs. Ideally this movement is made with the contraction of the oblique muscles. Initially, it’s common for people to have difficulty softening their glute muscles and engage the obliques to initiate the imprinted position.
- Avoid pressing your low back all the way down into the mat, or tilting your pelvis too far by overusing the abs or glutes. The amount of contact between the low back and the floor will be different for everyone.
Now that you know how, practice your different pelvis positions at home!