When I got pregnant and started the Fit2BirthMum program, I’ll admit I totally skimmed over all the ‘boring’ talk at the beginning about alignment and posture. I thought ‘ya ya, I have good posture, I don’t care about this crap’.
Then I developed a diastasis and some pretty bad pelvic floor weakness postpartum and I started to pay closer attention. All of these #pelvicmafia people I followed talked so much about alignment. Initially I thought they were all kind of weirdly obsessed. I thought it was not important. But I see now how important it really is.
In order for your core to function properly, it has to be positioned properly. Think of it like this, if you wanted to look forward but you held your head tilted to the floor all the time, that would put quite the strain in your eyes, wouldn’t it? Same Idea.
So how does bad alignment make me leak or give me ‘mummy-tummy’? Well bad alignment can contribute to diastasis recti & total core dysfunction. Diastasis recti can contributing to that ‘bulging tummy’ look, and core dysfunction contributes to pelvic floor dysfunction which can result in leaking or incontinence.
Most people live out of alignment because our environment encourages this. We spend so much time sitting in chairs, on couches, on ‘cushy’ surfaces, that push our pelvis to be tucked underneath us. We also spend a lot of time looking down towards things like cell phones and computer screens, forcing our thoracic (upper) spine into an exaggerated curve, or kyphosis.
So how do I know if I am in good or bad alignment?
There are a few keys to check for. Stand sideways to a mirror, now rock your pelvis back (like you’re sticking out your butt) then forth (tuck your bum under), then relax, where does your pelvis sit within this spectrum? Do you feel like your lower bum is clenched when you are just standing? This is bum tucking. This forces your ‘pelvic bowl’ out of sync with your ribcage. The two need to be aligned in order to function properly. Now look at your ribs. Stand in what you think is ‘good posture’. Can you see the outline of the bottom of your ribs sticking out? Is your ribcage sitting on top of your pelvis? Think of it like a cylinder (transverse abs) with a bowl at the bottom (pelvic floor) and an upside down bowl on top (diaphragm). These three things need to be lined up kind of in the shape of a twinkie without tilts or twists in order for the piston system to work properly. Your ribs need to be stacked vertically, with your lower ribs aligned with your hip bones on the front of your pelvis, with your pelvis neutral. I find it easiest to find my neutral pelvis first by sitting. Sit on a hard surface and rock your pelvis until you are sitting on your ‘sits bones’, now stand up while keeping that position. There should be a gentle curve in the lower back, but you shouldn’t force it. It’s a happy medium between an over-arched lower back and a tucked bum. At the end of all of this your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should all be stacked vertically on top of each other.
A few bonuses of living in good alignment, besides better core function. For one, you just look better! With your ribs and hips aligned, your tummy will appear smaller and with your pelvis in neutral instead of tucked under, your bum won’t look as flat or saggy. And who doesn’t want to look better without even stepping in the gym?
Now I realize, it is difficult to understand this concept through words alone. I tried my darndest to take photos of myself in the positions I described, but I just couldn’t get it to turn out the way I wanted to, dammit! However, Julie Weibe does an excellent job of helping you find your perfect alignment in her program The Pelvic Floor Piston: Foundation for Fitness. I had my alignment ‘lightbulb moment’ while going through this program at home, and I hope you will too!
While I am in the process of obtaining my PT certification with prenatal/postpartum specialization, I’m not quite there yet. Even then, I won’t be able to help everyone, but I don’t want that to hold you back from reaching your goals. My lovely friend Lorraine Scapens over at Pregnancy Exercise has most generously offered to give my readers a 10% discount on her programs that I used when pregnant and still use postpartum; Fit2BirthMum & Birth2FitMum as well as her other programs Super Fit Mum & No More Mummy Tummy Challenge. Simply enter the discount code ‘HMHB‘ at checkout to get your 10% off!