The Pelvis, Pain & Pleasure
Key lessons from personal training, pain-free movement, yoga, belly dance, and reproductive health.
If we don’t understand how the body works, how do we know whether it is working properly or not? What is normal? When I was in my 20’s, after having a child of my own and plenty of experience in the realm of sex, I was practicing for my midwifery skills exams. I was surprised with how little I actually knew about my own body. As the years passed, I forgot that I knew these things and assumed that others did understand the intricacies and importance of the pelvis as a bowl. As far as knowing whether things are normal or not, as long as everything “feels fine” you probably don’t really think about it or consider how your pelvis is functioning. But when the pain starts, that’s when you have no choice but to pull in all the tools and maybe even reach out for help.
Now, working closely with individuals from all walks of life, I see how actually most people are not really sure what is going on down there. There are patterns that are helpful and some that are harmful. What happens at the pelvis affects everything below and above it. Every joint below and above, muscles surrounding it, and even the throat and breath also affects the pelvis. You can have pain at the tail bone in the back, or the pubic arch in the front, at the back in the hips where the spine and sacrum meet or at the crest of your magic powerful bowl that your spine sits on. It even controls neck and head movement.
Key lessons from the Pelvis:
1.The Hips are the crossroads of spine and legs, upper body and lower body. The glutes are their King, the transverse abdominals (TVA) are their Queen and what happens or doesn’t at glutes and TVA will absolutely determine pelvic and back health. Let’s say the pelvic floor muscles are the Earth that the Queen and King work with, stand on, and preside over. And for the most part, you don’t want the earth to be like pavement or concrete.
2. It moves with the chest and neck. Pelvis, head, and chest move together. Consider your heart an Alter to God. Allow for your chest to lift high. Not necessarily out but high towards the heavens: strong, open, courageous, and warm. Now connect it to the EARTH. Your breath is the key to doing so. Having strong rhomboids, lower traps, and serratus anterior muscles at the back keeps this natural. This is shoulder girdle stability. The golden strands weaving these all together are your breath, your intentions, and connection to the Crowned Queen-TVA and other working muscles.
3. Your feet matter. You want to have diversity of use and whole integration. Footprint and Hip Action are inseparable. How you use and move your feet will absolutely affect your hips and of course the knee too. If your pelvis is the earth, the glutes the King and your TVAs the Queen then imagine the feet and legs as roots or pillars. They create the foundation for everything above the waist to function and expand.
Conclusion: What is going on at the pelvis will directly and indirectly affect pain in the front, back, upper, and lower body. The huge impact that the pelvis has is often ignored. You could say: it’s a bowl; it is the earth; it is the foundation; it’s a ball; a heart shaped bone; a diaphragm…the entrance/exit to/from another world? One thing is for sure, though, it should be strong, but it should also be fluid and moveable. The pelvis deserves attention and care because it is amazing and beautiful. Pelvis health is fundamental to pain-free movement.
WHY Pelvis, Pain & Pleasure? Because I’ve had so many clients with hip pain, pelvic floor issues, labrum tears, sciatica, low back or SI joint pain. This is important body information that everyone should know. It is basic whole body integration. I’ve found many friends, and colleagues who need to know mind, body, and soul. I created the program for them. Women, men, my children, and their partners. I wish it were taught in school. But it’s not.
I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I practice the ACE integrated model of stability and mobility as a key tool for pain-free movement.
I took my 1st belly dance class 22 years ago at St. Clair College when I was 6 months pregnant. About 5 years later, taught my 1st belly dance and health education class at the Asheville library while studying to become a Midwife. Later, in Bellingham I taught it as an adjunct to doula care because it is so valuable for pregnancy, birth prep, and recovery.
In 2013 I began facilitating belly dance, Tai Chi, and boot camp at a residential treatment center for substance use disorders where 30-60% of the participants were coming from jail or prison. At first, I was terrified-crazy nervous. I was incredibly intimidated. Now, finally I am much more comfortable and have taught movements to prevent back pain to 1000+ men and women of all ages and backgrounds. I realize how beneficial simple practices can be for every body.